MediaFile

Lyor Cohen to rivals: ‘Why can’t we all get along?’

Lyor Cohen (right) with hip hop artist Kanye West last year.

Lyor Cohen, Warner Music’s chief executive for recorded music, thinks the long-suffering and depleted music business would do a lot better if it could just stop the bitter in-fighting and back-stabbing particularly among the major label owner rivals Universal Music Group, Sony Music and EMI.

“We should root for one another,” said Cohen speaking at the New Music Seminar in New York earlier this week. “We can all come together and support each other. That’s hugely missing from our business.”

Referring to an industry which hopes it has now hit rock bottom and is finally turning things around:

“It makes it even more difficult when there’s so much friction in the business.”

The problem with Cohen turning all Kumbayah on us is that firstly he has one of the most combative and ruthless reputations in the music business earned over three decades breaking new acts against rivals.

Vevo relaunches with closer Facebook ties

Vevo, the music video company, has relaunched the popular site with a more personalized, social, long-play viewing experience getting closer and further away from that MTV experience at the same time.
One of the big changes is that you can now only get the full benefits of Vevo with a Facebook login in, which allows you to create a personalized Facebook playlist and share the videos you’ve watched with your friends on Facebook.

Vevo was the second most watched online video service in the U.S. in January with more than 51.5 million unique visitors watching an average of 62  minutes of video that month according to comScore. It is also YouTube’s number 1 partner.

A reminder that Vevo is owned by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group and the Abu Dhabi Media Company, It also features music videos from EMI and many independent labels but not Warner Music Group, the third largest label owner.

When is an EMI bid not really a bid?

Coldplay's Chris Martin

If you’ve covered the music business as long as some of us there are some news cycle days a decade or two apart which seem to merge seamlessly into each other.

For instance EMI, the storied label and publishing home to artists from the Beatles to Coldplay, seems to have permanently been on sale since time began and sometimes you just wish it would be over as a journalist. With each potential transaction there’s the subterfuge and speculation of unnamed deal sources guiding journalists which way the deal might go and this tends to drag on and on for a while.

So you can can imagine our surprise when a press release crossed the wire this afternoon announcing ex-Universal Music and ex-Warner Music executive Jim Caparro has teamed up with Alliance Warburg Capital Management to make an offer to buy all of EMI Group ‘s music and publishing units.

Today In Music: Spotify U.S. not imminent, “not even in Q1″

daniel_ek_closeupWe hate to hit replay on this one but following New York Post’s story today that European streaming music service Spotify is close to a deal with Sony Music and thereby close to launch we decided to call a few people to confirm.

It appears there’s still some distance between Spotify and the big major labels my sources tell me.

“It’s not happening anytime soon, they may be close to getting deals done, but the labels are still not confident about their business model,” one person said.

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.

Today In Music: Labels still looking forward to Google Music, Spotify less so

So 2010 was the year that wasn’t as far as a major revolutionary digital music launches were concerned. Label executives have been hoping fervently for some real competition to take on Apple’s iTunes. Not that they don’t want iTunes to do very well but having one company control 70 percent of recorded music sales in your biggest markets like the US and UK is perhaps not best for industry growth.

Andy Rubin GoogleThis has meant that whenever it looks like there could be real competition — remember the hopes for Microsoft’s Zune? There’s always been an overreaction from the labels in the hype department. Remember how Amazon would be a true digital rival? Today it’s market share hovers around the 15 percent mark.

So when Google started talking to labels about a music servicethe labels got very excited. So far we know Google has proposed a download store and a digital music locker which will allow you to access music you own wherever you are. They had hoped to have it up and running by Christmas but dealing with labels takes time. In the meantime Google has been getting its house in order for become more a content middle-man media company by promising to work harder on issues like copyright.This is likely because it would like to have more mainstream content for its Android wireless phones and tablets if it is to be a more complete competitor to Apple’s iTunes/iPhone/iPad/iOS ecosystem.  We’re hearing the labels are still very confident that Google will get something up and running sooner rather than later despite the delays. Google is also still looking for people to run its music service, though negotiations have been led by Android founder and Google VP of engineering Andy Rubin (pictured, above).

Today In Music: Sales down in US and UK in 2010, digital barely up

The numbers are in for two of the biggest music markets and unsurprisingly, sales  are down yet again, continuing a trend of the last decade.

TaylorSwiftUS:

According to numbers from Nielsen SoundScan, total album sales, traditionally the heartbeat of the industry, were down 13 percent in the 52 weeks to Jan 2 this year. Over 326 milion albums were sold in all formats including digital versus 374 million a year  ago. Overall music sales, when you include albums, singles, music videos and digital tracks was down 2.5 percent. Music sales were helped a bit by digital track sales holding steady up 1 percent to 1.17 billion units but that’s a far cry from the double digit percentage growth seen in recent years.

The top dog in the label business is still Universal Music Group with a 30.84 percent market share of album sales, followed by Sony Music Entertainment with 27.95 percent, Warner Music Group at 20.01 percent and EMI at 10.18 percent. Others, which represent independents, are at 11.02 percent. Interestingly only Universal and the troubled EMI grew market share slightly this year, EMI likely had a Beatles digital bump as well as some rare US hits like Lady Antebellum (top selling physical album).

EMI promotes publishing guy to oversee Capitol and Virgin labels in US

JohnMellencamp

(Clarifies earlier post to show McCarroll is not replacing Melrose/Brooks)

EMI, the smallest and most troubled of the four major music companies, took its latest step towards re-focusing under new leader Roger Faxon by appointing the current head of North American creative at EMI Music Publishing  as president of   the Capitol and Virgin label group in North America.

McCarroll is credited with signing artists like John Mellencamp (pictured, right), Death Cab for Cutie, Panic At The Disco and songwriters like Toby Gad who wrote Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “If I Were a Boy” for Beyonce.  Former A&R executives Steven Melrose and Leonard Brooks are leaving the company while EMI Music Publishing’s A&R team will continue to be led by president of North American Creative Jon Platt.

It’s not often that music publishing executives move over to recorded music. In fact, despite the steady revenues and profits from publishing even as CD sales tumble, publishing departments are often treated by label colleagues like a poor stepchild. But as we all know times have changed. Regular revenues and profits will get you a lot of leverage these days at a music company. Through all the trauma of EMI’s restructuring, sale and legal battles, EMI Music Publishing has managed to be a relatively steady ship.  In the United States EMI Publishing manages songs and repertoire for artists including Beyonce, Fergie, Jay-Z, Norah Jones, Pink and Kanye West.

Warner’s music comes to Hulu, still not on Vevo

JasonMrazWarner Music has just announced that it has signed up to offer music videos, live shows and interviews of its artists on the popular online video site Hulu.

This is interesting as Warner Music is the only one of the so-called big four major music companies that hasn’t signed up to put its music on Vevo, the premium music video site jointly owned by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Abu Dhabi Media Company. Vevo is built on the technology platform of YouTube. Warner and YouTube have recently fallen out then settled over licensing terms.

Ultimately, this is about business for Warner. As the only publicly traded music company, Warner Music Group seems keen to occasionally go a different route from its other major label rivals as its executives will argue they have shareholders to answer to.

Beatles tie-in with Apple event? How about the Stones?

Apple confirmed what the technology world has been expecting for weeks: a September 9 media extravaganza. The company has been holding September events for years to refresh its iPod line and unveil new models ahead of the holiday season.

And while new iPods are also expected to be on tap this year, Apple threw in a little curveball to get the company’s fans and followers talking.

Sept. 9 is also the launch day for “The Beatles: Rock Band” video games, as well as the date that EMI will release the digitally remastered versions of their original song catalog. Given that supposed coincidence, some were speculating that a deal to finally bring the Beatles’ songs to iTunes was brewing. The Beatles may be the most famous rock band ever, but they have not yet made their songs available on Apple’s hugely popular online store.