|FRIDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2020||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Those of you who were disappointed when Vivendi decided not to go the IPO route in order to sell off chunks of its Universal Music business, worry not! Warner Music is now going to IPO, so you can buy yourself some lovely shares in that instead... [READ MORE]|
Warner Music announces plans to IPO
The mini-major announced last night that it had "filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the US Securities And Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of its common stock". The bankers at Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs will oversee the share sale, which hopes to capitalise on the renewed interest in music rights among investment types thanks to the streaming boom.
Warner Music used to be part of the wider Warner entertainment business, of course, hence it using the surname of those pesky Warner brothers. It was spun off as a standalone entity via an acquisition led by Edgar Bronfman Jr in 2004, who then floated the company on the New York Stock Exchange a year later. Current owner Access Industries then acquired the firm for $3.3 billion in 2011, taking it back into private ownership.
For Access and its chief Len Blavatnik, that was a smart time to buy, the record industry being at its lowest ebb in 2011 after a decade of turmoil caused by the rapid shift to digital consumption of recorded music. Since then the streaming boom has put the music rights sector back into growth and - while there remains plenty of questions about the sustainability of the streaming music business model and the future power of the labels in an evolving music industry - the investment community is definitely interested in music again.
Vivendi was the first to seek to cash in from that renewal in interest, initially indicating that it planned to sell off some of its music company Universal in 2017. It also toyed with going the IPO route, but in the end decided to negotiate directly with interested parties. A consortium led by Chinese web giant Tencent finalised a deal to take 10% of the business late last year, of course. Talks with other bidders are ongoing.
Both Vivendi and Access seem keen to retain a controlling stake in their music companies, but are seeking to cash in as the valuations of their recording and song catalogues sore - the Tencent deal valued Universal Music at about $33 billion.
Warner - with its portfolio of labels, Warner/Chappell publishing division and ADA label services company - is significantly smaller than Universal. But is still now worth considerably more than Access paid for it back in 2011.
The specifics of Warner's IPO plans are yet to be fully revealed, but the investment community and wider music industry will be watching the mini-major's march to the stock market very closely indeed.
Judge rules in Dr Luke's favour on some elements of his long-running Kesha dispute
This legal battle is long-running, multi-layered and quite complicated, having involved multiple lawsuits in multiple American states. Most of those lawsuits have been dismissed, but the defamation action filed by Luke continues.
At the heart of it all is Kesha's allegation of rape against her long-time producer and collaborator Luke. He denies that allegation, and alleges that she only made that claim in a bid to force his hand in contract negotiations.
This week's lengthy ruling in relation to the defamation action summarises the full dispute to date, while also considering the extent of Luke's public profile and Kesha's liabilities, or not, for comments made by her advisors and supporters, both of which are relevant when pursuing a defamation claim.
The judge is clear that she is not ruling on Kesha's allegation of rape, but rather other matters linked to the case, in particular a contractual dispute over royalty payments and Kesha's second allegation that Luke also raped Katy Perry.
The latter claim was made in a text message to Lady Gaga. The judge notes that "there is no evidence whatsoever that [Luke] raped Katy Perry" and, perhaps most importantly, "Perry unequivocally testified that [Luke] did not do so". And while Kesha made the allegation in a private message to Gaga, "publication of a false statement to even one person is sufficient to impose liability".
Therefore, the judge concludes: "Kesha made a false statement to Lady Gaga about [Luke] that was defamatory per se". Meanwhile, on the contractual dispute, Kesha was ordered to pay $374,000, which covers interest on royalty payments that she delayed turning over to Luke's company in breach of her contract.
The case continues with the judge stating that the main rape allegation needs to be considered by a jury. However, this week's ruling is an initial win for Luke.
His representatives said in a statement: "Kesha abandoned her meritless case against Dr Luke more than three years ago. The only remaining lawsuit is Dr Luke's case against Kesha for defamation and breach of contract. Dr Luke is pursuing this lawsuit to seek recovery for the serious harm Kesha's false accusations of rape have caused Dr Luke, his family and his business".
The statement concluded: "Dr Luke looks forward to the trial of his case where he will prove that Kesha's other false statements about him were equally false and defamatory".
Kesha's team is expected to appeal the summary judgement.
Taylor Swift signs publishing deal with Universal
Swift's new publishing deal sees her leave Sony/ATV, to which she had been signed since she was fourteen. It also sees her reunited with a former exec of the Sony-owned company, Troy Tomlinson, who became CEO of UMPG Nashville in July last year.
Ignoring poor Troy and bigging up his bosses instead, Swift says in a statement: "I'm proud to extend my partnership with Lucian Grainge and the Universal Music family by signing with UMPG, and for the opportunity to work with Jody Gerson, the first woman to run a major music publishing company. Jody is an advocate for women's empowerment and one of the most-respected and accomplished industry leaders".
But don't worry. She doesn't forget to namecheck old Troy entirely. "Troy Tomlinson has been an amazing part of my team for over half my life and a passionate torchbearer for songwriters", she adds. "It's an honour to get to work with such an incredible team, especially when it comes to my favourite thing in the world: songwriting".
Woah! Songwriting? I thought Swift's favourite thing in the world was gambling on mahjong games. Oh well, I guess it's true what they say: you really do learn something new every day. Anyway, she just gushed about some people, so we should probably let them gush back.
"We are honoured to welcome Taylor Swift to UMPG", says Gerson, the boss of the mega-major's songs business. "Using her power and voice to create a better world, Taylor's honest and brave songwriting continues to be an inspiration to countless fans. We look forward to further amplifying Taylor's voice and songs across the globe".
Tomlinson adds: "I've had the distinct pleasure of working with Taylor since she was fourteen years old, and she still amazes me daily. The true definition of a multigenerational artist and songwriter, Taylor's songs, vision and unwavering determination have always been an inspiration. I am so happy and so proud to continue representing Taylor and her music, and I am confident that UMPG will be the best, most creative partner in providing unparalleled opportunities for her songs".
Swift, of course, signed a new record deal with Universal's Republic Records in 2018, with her first album for the label, 'Lover', following last August. The agreement saw her depart indie record company Big Machine, which was originally set up in order to sign her. The split was not entirely amicable, of course - particularly after the label was bought by the aforementioned Braun. She still plans to re-record her Big Machine era hits to spite Braun et al.
It remains to be seen if she now has any Sony/ATV grievances to air, although the nature of modern publishing deals in the US means that's less likely. Also, she'd basically be dissing Tomlinson, who is both her former and current publishing ally.
Musicians' Union backs Kier Starmer as new Labour leader
"I'm honoured to have the Musicians' Union's backing to be the next leader of the Labour Party", says Starmer. "The Union has a proud history of standing up for musicians and defending their rights at work. As Labour leader, I would want to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our trade unions to unite our movement and take the fight to the Tories".
MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge adds: "The MU is delighted to be nominating Keir Starmer for Labour Party leader. Keir has been a strong supporter of the campaigning we have done over the last two years for proper provision of working visas for musicians to tour the EU after we leave and has always shown a real understanding of the issues facing our members".
"The MU is also very happy to be nominating Rosena Allin-Khan for the position of Labour Party deputy leader", he continues. "Rosena is a musician and former member of our union and is passionate about all children and young people having access to free music education. She has also been a great supporter of musicians whilst working on the shadow DCMS team".
The winner of the election to take over from Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader will be announced on 4 Apr.
Jack Garratt announces new album of "dance music for people who don't want to go out"
Explaining the lengthy gap between his first and second albums, Garratt echoes comments made by a number of returning artists recently - including Porter Robinson and Best Coast's Bethany Consentino - about dealing with depression and anxiety in the wake of a period of career success.
"I was in what should have been this huge celebratory moment", he says of the time after the release of his 2016 debut album 'Phase'. "I'm 24, 25, my album has not only sold but sold well, globally, the tours were selling out, I was getting all these accolades and awards - I should have felt comfortable, at the very least. And instead I was scared and alone, and desperate for affection. I'd realised that a lot of the pillars of affection were hollow; they weren't real".
This wasn't helped by a lack of confidence in his own abilities. He says of that first LP: "[It's] a record full of beautiful metaphor that doesn't really say anything. I was scared to actually say something real; I didn't think people wanted to hear it. That's why my production on that record is so busy, so saturated".
"I didn't think I was a good producer", he adds, "so I did lots of tricks to make people think: 'He's good'. Same with the lyrics, with the melodies, all of it, it was just me on a face-value level effectively going: 'This is good because it's impressive, not because it's actually good'".
Eventually overcoming his creative block, he began working on new music with producer Jacknife Lee, which became the new album. It is, he says, "written from the point of view of someone who has a functioning sadness, who has had his day-to-day depressions and anxieties that have influenced the decisions he's made".
"The album is about that functionality, that day-to-day battle, conversation, tug of war", he goes on. "We're making a film at the moment, to go with the whole album. The premise of it is that it's me in the back rooms of my mental health, on my own, interpreting the album. The one thing it needs to do is for the very last shot to be exactly the same as the opening shot. Because this battle in my head is cyclical, infinite; it's a line of consistency, a time loop that's just going round and round and round".
While depression may still be part of his life, one thing that has changed is how he feels about what he has created. He concludes: "I think this is the first time I've felt proud of the songs I've made. I wrote this album as someone - and for anyone - who likes dancing but doesn't necessarily want to go out on a Saturday. It's dance music for people who don't want to go out! And that's the music that I love: music that doesn't care if you're standing up or sitting down. It's going to give it to you either way".
'Love, Death & Dancing' will be out on 29 May. He'll also be touring the UK later this month as well as playing two newly announced dates at EartH in London on 9-10 Mar. Watch the video for 'Time' here.
I Break Horses warn of first album for six years
"It has been some time in the making", says the project's creative force Maria Lindén. "About five years, involving several studios, collaborations that didn't work out, a crashed hard drive with about two years of work, writing new material again instead of trying to repair it. New studio recordings, erasing everything, then recording most of the album myself at home".
"Nowadays, the attention span equals nothing when it comes to how most people consume music", she adds. "And it feels like songs are getting shorter, more 'efficient'. I felt an urge to go against that and create an album journey from start to finish that takes time and patience to listen to. Like, slow the fuck down!"
As for new single, 'Death Engine', she says: "The song, which was written in connection to a close friend's suicide attempt, also reflects upon the increasing reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death among Generation Z, with this age group having more mental health issues than any other generation".
'Warnings' is out on 8 May. Watch the video for 'Death Engine' here.
The Jack 2 radio station in Oxford has requested a format change from media regulator Ofcom. Rather than playing a mix of new and recent chart music for 15-29 years olds, it plans to rebrand as Jack 3 and play "easy hits for the over 50s". That's going to shock all the young people when they tune in. Or the young person, possibly. Everyone in radio was bigging up their new RAJAR listening figures yesterday, but are the kids really tuning in anymore? Convert the entire FM spectrum to "easy hits for the over 50s" I say.
Lamb Of God have announced that their first album for five years, titled 'Lamb Of God', will be out on 8 May through Nuclear Blast. First single, 'Checkmate', is out now.
Radiohead's Ed O'Brien - as EOB - has released new solo single 'Shangri-La'. The track is taken from his debut solo album, 'Earth', which is out on 17 Apr.
Foals have released the video for 'Neptune', from their 'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 2' album.
Jon Hopkins has released new track 'Scene Suspended'. "The main tracks on [his 2018 album] 'Singularity' were built of hundreds of layers and processes, and took nearly two years to build", says Hopkins. "Following on from this I've been craving a return to simplicity, to acoustic sound and to the instrument I grew up playing [the piano]. In order to express similar themes, but to use as little as possible to achieve this, the only sound sources on 'Scene Suspended' are piano and violin".
King Krule has released new single 'Alone, Omen 3'. His new album, 'Man Alive', is out on 21 Feb.
Maribou State will release a Fabric mix next month, including two new tracks of their own. "In this mix we wanted to create a world of music that in its entirety you wouldn't expect to hear within the walls of Fabric, but would reflect the hours spent before heading to the club", say the duo. The release is out on 27 Mar.
Field Music have released the video for 'Money Is A Memory' from their 'Making A New World' album. They begin UK tour dates later this month.
Roch has released new single 'T-Rose'. "The song is about an absence of a child/loss of one and a common feeling of once someone/thing is gone you feel you have more to say to them", she says. "This is the most intimate and pared back song on the album".
GIGS & TOURS
Justin Bieber has announced that he'll play a small show at Indigo At The O2 on 11 Feb, ahead of the release of his new album, 'Changes', next Friday. This Friday - ie today - he's released new single 'Intentions', featuring Quavo.
Nile Rodgers will host his second annual BRITs viewing party at The Ned in London, in aid of The BRIT School and We Are Family Foundation, later this month (on the same night as the BRITs, funnily enough). Tickets here.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Madonna accuses London Palladium of censorship after dropping curtain on overrunning show
Having apparently gone past the venue's curfew with her performance at the London Palladium on Wednesday night, the stage curtain was closed before Madonna was able to begin her final song. This, she insisted from the darkness, was "motherfucking censorship".
In a post on Instagram, she wrote: "It was five minutes past our 11pm curfew - we had one more song to do and The Palladium decided to censor us by pulling down the metal fire curtain that weighs nine tons. Fortunately, they stopped it halfway and no one was hurt. Many thanks to the entire audience who did not move and never left us".
Defying the fairly strong hint that it was time to go home, Madonna, her dancers, backing singers and band emerged from behind the curtain to deliver a raucous, mostly a cappella rendition of her song 'I Rise'. So, while she may have been annoyed, it did provide a pretty memorable end to the show. She should have kept quiet and just done the same every night.
Meanwhile, back in the US, Madonna's poor time-keeping is getting her into trouble there too. The musician has been hit with a second class action lawsuit over late starts to shows.
She was sued in November after the start time for a Tuesday night performance due to happen the following month was moved back to 10.30pm from 8.30pm. This would mean that the show would not finish until 1am. So, one fan who had bought tickets, Nate Hollander, decided that he no longer wished to attend. However, he was refused a refund and was unable to resell the ticket, he claims, because no one else wanted such a late bedtime on a Tuesday night either.
Now Madonna and promoter Live Nation are being sued over two earlier shows in New York, where she arrived on stage at 10.30pm, despite the advertised showtime being 8.30pm - and in that case no indication was given that a late start was likely. According to Billboard, the new lawsuit says that, given Madonna's history of arriving on stage late, the promoter should have been aware that the advertised start time "constituted, at best, optimistic speculation", and advised ticket-buyers accordingly.
The two men suing on this occasion - Andrew Panos and Antonio Velotta - seemingly attended the shows, but decided to leave before they began, due to the increasingly late hour. Similar to Hollander, they say that they were refused a refund and, by the time they decided to bail, it was too late to attempt to offload their tickets onto someone else.
Madonna seemingly responded to the initial lawsuit last year by posting a video of herself on stage saying: "There's something that you all need to understand, and that is that a queen is never late".
It remains to be seen if the courts concur with that.