MediaFile

Today in Music: BMG keeps rebuilding publishing empire with Fuji deal

Bertelsmann’s BMG Music Rights has continued to expand by agreeing to a deal to manage the song catalogs of Fuji John Lee HookerEntertainment America’s ARC Music, Six Palms Music and Third Story catalogs in a worldwide deal everywhere outside of Japan and South East Asia.

While this isn’t quite as committed a deal as buying a company’s catalog,  it’s still an important way to continue to gain influence and power in the music publishing business. The German media company returned to  music publishing in 2007  after a brief absence following the sale of  its song publishing company to Universal Music Group  in 2006.

Since being founded, BMG Music Rights has built up its catalog to more than 200,000 songs and recordings following acquisitions of catalogs like Crosstown Songs, Cherry Lane Music Publishing and Stage Three Music.

The joint venture company (between Bertelsmann and private equity firm KKR) is now seen as the likely buyer of EMI’s rich catalog of songs whenever, if ever, its owner Terra Firma finally puts EMI’s assets on the block.

ARC Music’s catalog includes works by blues and rock ‘n’ roll legends like Chuck Berry (“Johnny B. Goode”), Bo Diddley “Who Do You Love”, Howlin’ Wolf (“Smokestack Lightning”) and John Lee Hooker (“Boom Boom”), pictured left.

Today in Music: EMI to be put out of its Terra Firma misery soon?

ColdplayWe’re all a little tired of writing about the imminent demise of EMI, home to the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Coldplay and Robbie Williams,  simply because it hasn’t happened in all  the years of writing it.

Well, the storied British music company might disappear in March if its private equity owner Terra Firma trips an upcoming debt covenant test. Even before that happens the UK’s Observer paper says EMI could be “within weeks”of being owned by Citigroup, to whom Terra Firma owes a truck load of cash with which it used to buy EMI in 2007. It says Terra Firma founder Guy Hands is exploring an option to exit before the March deadline.

And in a sign of Terra Firma’s increasing desperation as the debt deadline nears it appealed a US court decision that dashed its hopes for compensation from Citigroup as my colleague Simon Meads writes here from London. Terra Firma had tried to claim late in 2009 that Citigroup duped it into overpaying for EMI.

Thursday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

New York Times Asks Subscribers: Is It Wrong to Charge for Online Content? (Poynter)
Bill Mitchell writes: “The New York Times is testing a price point of $5 a month for access to nytimes.com, with a 50 percent discount for print subscribers. The Times e-mailed a survey to print subscribers Thursday afternoon inviting their reaction to that pricing plan and asking a range of questions about online pricing.”

Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims (Guardian)
“The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public figures to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills,” writes Nick Davies.
UK police won’t reopen Murdoch paper phonetap case (Reuters)

A is for abattoir; Z is for ZULU: All in the Handbook of Journalism (Reuters)
Dean Wright writes: “The handbook is the guidance Reuters journalists live by — and we’re proud of it. Until now, it hasn’t been freely available to the public. In the early 1990s, a printed handbook was published and in 2006 the Reuters Foundation published a relatively short PDF online that gave some basic guidance to reporters. But it’s only now that we’re putting the full handbook online.”

Sony buys out Bertelsmann’s stake in Sony BMG

Beyonce and Justin Timberlake(Updates earlier post to clarify deal terms)

After four years of recriminations and in-fighting between executives from Sony Music and executives from BMG Music Entertainment, Tokyo-based Sony Corp has decided to end the mutual pain of a controversial merger and take full control of Sony BMG.

Artists like Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake will now record under a new banner: Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

The FT had reported in June that Bertelsmann was looking for $1.2 billion-$1.5 billion for its 50 percent stake in Sony BMG, but it looks like the German media company settled for $600 million-$900 million — the exact sum depends on how you do the math.