CMU Daily - on the inside 14 Jan 2004
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- BMG sony deal goes to EU
- BPI hint they may crack down on downloaders
- Ash on the new album
- Sleazenation relaunches next month
- Bedingfield out of hospital
- UK album sales up
- ITV saturday show has slow start
- Bobby Gillespie to stage virtual festival on 6Music
- Oneword axes staff
- More Grammys line up announced
- Zappa settles with furniture chain
- Norah Jones new album due
- BBC's no-viewer shows
- Evanescence moody writing for Avril
- Coachella initial line up news
- Warner boss may quit
- ITV merger gets shareholder rubber stamp
- Napster launch college service
- Keane tour
- Tears for fears are back
- G-unit man signs deal to make porno films 


Sony and BMG have officially handed their merger plans to the European Union Commission. The EU's monopolies and competitions people will now consider whether a further consolidation of the major record labels would give too few players too much power in the European music space. 

As previously reported, insiders at the majors assume that the EU will not block a merger this time - like they did when EMI and Warners tried to merge in 2000 - because rulings by the EU's own courts with regards the travel industry have forced competition officials to rethink their policies on how many major players should be allowed in any one industry. But it is not a forgone conclusion. EU officials will be considering evidence from, among others, IMPALA, which represents independent labels across Europe and which opposes the proposed merger. 

Depending on how the EU responds to the specifics of the BMG Sony deal, a decision could be made as soon as 12 Feb. If the EU felt more consulting was required then the overall deadline for making a decision would be 12 May. 

If the EU does give the merger the green light without too many complicated conditions it would then go to America for US antitrust clearance. Few objections are expected there - especially given that the two majors have said that the new HQ for the merged company would be on neutral territory in New York (ie not in Germany or Japan) which makes it an attractive proposition for US business.

Elsewhere in BMG Sony news, Arista boss LA Reid announced he was leaving the major yesterday in what was seen by many as the first major change caused by the pending merger. Reid took over Arista four years ago after the departure of the label's founder Clive Davis. He has overseen the label during a number of key international successes around artists such as Outkast, Avril Lavigne, Pink and Usher. Whether Reid's departure is directly related to the pending merger is not actually clear - job cuts are likely across the group if the merger goes ahead, and with Clive Davis now back at BMG running RCA it is possible Reid felt his post may be under threat. Either way he is unlikely to be replaced until all the merger stuff is done with.


The BPI's Director General Andrew Yeates implied his organisation may step up its campaign against illegal music downloading yesterday. Speaking about the continuing popularity of P2P networks like Kazaa, Yeates said: "We want to increase consumer awareness of the legal implications of file-sharing. We want to introduce new legitimate download services. If these are not working, then there has to be a degree of enforcement." 

Quite what that 'degree of enforcement' would be was unclear. Under UK copyright law file sharing is essentially illegal and some say there is pressure for the BPI to got the route of the Recording Industry Association of America and start legal action against individual music fans who illegally download music. 

But some industry insiders aren't convinced that is a route the BPI are keen to take. Struan Robertson of Masons, a leading law firm in the information and technology sector, told Reuters: "The BPI is not going to bring a criminal case. That would require prosecutors getting involved. And they have a lot more to do than to go after kids in their bedrooms."


Ash will be back with their fifth album in late Spring - hurrah! And according to Tim Wheeler the band's new material will be heavier than anything they have done before.

Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine Wheeler said: "Albums like Nirvana's 'Nevermind' and Guns n' Roses' 'Appetite for Destruction' inspired us on this album. So we wanted to work with an American producer [they went with Foo Fighters production man Nick Raskulinecz], one who knew the kind of sounds we wanted to make. As a result there are tracks on here which are heavier than anything we've ever done before" 

Drummer Rick McMurray added: "Bands complain that they get pigeonholed. I think we've had the opposite problem. People have a hard time figuring out what we're on about. We wanted to make a more cohesive album."


Following our report yesterday on the ending of the partnership between Xfm and Swinstead Publishing - who had collaborated on publishing Xfm's music magazine Xray - our insider at Swinstead reminded us that although SP ended the current chapter of Sleazenation at the end of 2003, the magazine was not actually "closed down" as we suggested yesterday. In fact a relaunched version of the legendary magazine will appear on newsstands on 5 Feb. No word as yet on what the new look Sleazenation will include - we'll let you know as soon as we hear anything else. 


Daniel Bedingfield has been released from that New Zealand hospital where he was recovering after being involved in a car crash over the Christmas break. He is expected to stay with his parents in New Zealand for another two months to further recuperate from damage to vertebrae in his neck. It is not yet clear if he will make it to London for the Brits next month where he is up for three awards.


Despite the doom and the gloom in the music biz, UK album sales reached a record high last year increasing by 7.3%. A combination of falling CD prices and major album releases helped boost sales - 121 million artist albums were sold according the end-of-year figures from the UK Chart Company. Dido had the best selling album, followed by Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera.

Of course those who prefer the doom and gloom may point out that the price war currently being conducted by the retailers may help boost numbers of units sold, but doesn't help the industry long term in terms of revenues. As Asda et al push prices for major releases down to the seven quid mark it makes it hard for the independents - and even HMV and Virgin - to compete in the mainstream sector. And if that forces record shops out of business it will mean less shelf space for newer signings and independent labels.

And talking of doom and gloom - the singles market continued to slide last year - down nearly 30%. The best selling single was Black Eyed Peas' Where is the Love? which shifted 625,000 units. Coupled with the 222,000 sales of follow-up track 'Shut Up' they were the biggest selling artists of the year in terms of single sales. But 848,000 total units isn't great put next to the best selling singles artist the previous year - Will Young's sold 2,520,000 singles in 2002.


ITV's replacement for SM:TV - which had its grand finale over the Christmas break - had almost half the viewers of its BBC 1 rival on its first outing last weekend. 500,000 tuned into Ministry of Mayhem while 900,000 watched BBC 1's ever popular Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow.

But an ITV spokeswoman was keen to point out that these shows take a little while to build. Speaking to Broadcast magazine she said: "A programme like The Ministry of Mayhem takes time to establish itself and build an audience. Viewers need to get to know the presenters and the format and this obviously takes time - SMTV reached the peak of its success eighteen months into its transmission. Holly, Michael and Stephen have great chemistry on screen and we have every confidence in the show."


Having let Radiohead manage their programming over Christmas, the BBC's digital music station 6Music is putting Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie in charge. Gillespie will present his 'fantasy music festival' on the station over the weekend 24/25 Jan using classic sessions from the BBC's archive. Music is expected from the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Roxy Music, the Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Public Image Ltd and Joy Division.

John Sugar, programme editor at 6 Music, told reporters: "After the fantastic success of working with Radiohead it has been a real pleasure to explore the musical taste of Bobby Gillespie."


According to Publishing News digital talk radio station Oneword has axed both its in house team and freelance network pending a major rejig. One of the station's owners - USI Holdings - is reportedly keen to sell out its share to fellow owners UBC Media. The latter say they will lead a major restructure once that deal is done. 


More from the organisers of the Grammys regarding who will be performing at the show on 8 Feb. Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Outkast were all added to the bill yesterday, joining a previously announced performance from White Stripes. 


Gail Zappa, the widow of the legendary Frank Zappa, has reached a settlement with the Canadian furniture firm Tanguay, who used one of her husband's tracks in an ad without permission. As previously reported Zappa was suing the firm for the unauthorised use of her husband's music back in 1995 - the defendants blamed the failure to get clearance on a third party company hired by their ad agency.

Announcing the settlement a spokesman for Tanguay told reporters: "We accept responsibility for and offer our sincerest apologies for the infringement of the copyrights in Frank Zappa's work `Watermelon in Easter Hay' and for the infringement of the moral rights in this work. We regret that we used the music and the master without permission in the two commercials broadcast repeatedly in 1995. We regret the distress it has caused you as a family and the impact of the infringements on the integrity of the work."

In a separate statement Gail said "This is a great relief for my family. I am thankful that after all this time, the unique character of Frank Zappa's work and the importance of recognizing the value of copyrights prevailed".


Norah Jones will release her second album next month - the follow up to the eight-million-selling 'Come Away With Me'. She has worked once again with her Grammy-winning songwriter-collaborator Jesse Harris on the new album. One Dolly Parton also reportedly appears.


The best thing about vague viewing/listening figures which rely on dubious stats and equations is when a show's figures average out at zero. That happened to some 1328 hours of output on the BBC's digital channels last year. According to figures from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board, shows on BBC News 24, CBBC, BBC 3 and BBC4 all had official ratings of zero last year. Pre-school channel Cbeebies scored much less 'no viewer' stats than its sister digital stations.

All that said the BBC was keen to point out that many digital channels regularly score official ratings of zero and that all of its digital stations are building loyal audiences as they find their ground and the number of multi-channel households grow.


Former Evanescence guitarist and co-creative Ben Moody is penning some songs for Avril Lavinge who is currently working on her second album. Moody, who controversially walked out on Evenescence mid-tour without any official word last Autumn, apparently volunteered his songwriting services to Avril's team late last year. Moody co-wrote all of Evanescence's 'Fallen' album, including hits 'Bring Me to Life' and 'Going Under'.


Organisers of the eclectic Californian music festival Coachella have confirmed the first set of artists who will appear at the event from 1 - 2 May. According to Billboard, Air, The Thrills and Electric Six will all play. However no word on rumours Radiohead and a reformed Pixies will headline. 


According to reports in the New York Post yesterday, Warner Music boss Roger Ames is planning to leave the company once the sale to Edgar Bronfman Jr is complete. This contradicts previous statements from both Ames and Bronfman who said they were both looking forward to working with each other once Warner Music becomes essentially independent from the rest of the Time Warner group and properly under Bronfman's control.

However the Post says Ames has a profitable get-out clause in his contract should he not have overall control of Warner Music following any transaction - and following this merger he won't - Bronfman will be ultimately in charge. That fact seems to be fuelling the rumours that Ames does, in fact, plan to quit and that Lyor Cohen, who currently heads up Universal division Island Def Jam, is being sounded out as a replacement.

As yet both the Ames and Bronfman camps are sticking by their original commitment to work together on the merged major.


Both Granada and Carlton shareholders have now given the final go ahead to a merger - meaning the creation of a merged ITV company is now properly underway. The first job is to find a chief executive - a post left unfilled since investors pushed former Carlton boss Michael Green out of the post just as the merger was given regulator go ahead last year. Former Granada boss and new ITV Chairman Charles Allen says the group has a "long shortlist of half a dozen people" and that interviews will take place this month, with a decision due to be made sometime after 2 Feb. 

For some reason a number of those said to be under consideration for the post have a mobile phone background, these include: former Vodafone chief executive Sir Christopher Gent, current Vodaphone boss Lord MacLaurin and former Orange boss Hans Snook.


Napster began their special service for students at Penn State University yesterday. As previously reported, Napster are hoping to gain ground in the digital music market by offering special services for members of specific organisations. Students at the college can register for free and have access to discounted tracks via the service.

If the Penn State arrangement works the company is likely to set up a number of college specific services - accessible via each college's computer network. The colleges will be hoping that by offering their students the services they will be less likely to use their college internet access to download illegal music via P2P networks. 


Buzz band Keane have confirmed a UK tour to follow their appearance at an NME Awards Show on 5 Feb. The dates will help promote new single 'Somewhere We Only Know', out on 16 Feb on Island Records. Dates as follows: 

10 Feb: Northampton Soundhaus 
11 Feb: Birmingham Bar Academy 
12 Feb: Sheffield University 
13 Feb: Leeds Joseph's Well 
14 Feb: Newcastle University 
16 Feb: Glasgow King Tuts Wah Wah Hut 
17 Feb: Liverpool Academy 3 
18 Feb: Manchester Roadhouse 
19 Feb: Nottingham Rescue Rooms 
20 Feb: Bristol Louisiana 


Quick, quick - cash in while 'Mad World' is still on the radio. Tear For Fears will release their first single for 14 years in March - the first from new album 'Everybody Loves A Happy Ending' which is due out in April. Both will be released on BMG label Arista.


G-Unit's Lloyd Banks has announced he has signed a deal to make porno movies. His company Banks Shot Productions will make movies for Digital Sin for DVD release. Word is the series of films will be named after the G-Unit track 'Groupie Luv'.

Banks told reporters: "It's gonna be great, it will seem like you will be the one having sex". Although G-Unit and 50 Cent are likely to cameo in the films a spokesman for Banks' company assures us "neither 50 Cent nor G-Unit will be engaged in any sexual behaviour but may make general appearances in film".

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