eMusic is in talks with other majors after Sony deal

Long time independent digital music retailer eMusic has finally got its mittens on some major label music after signing a deal with Sony Music Entertainment — and the company says it is still in talks with other majors like Universal Music, Warner Music and EMI to see if it can get more.

From the third quarter eMusic will have catalog from names like Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, Johnny Cash and Outkast. Catalog music here means songs older than two years.

eMusic, which is an independent retailer owned by JDS Capital Management, competes in a tough market led by Apple’s iTunes and MP3. But it has has held its own and even claimed to be the No.2 digital music retailer on some measures in the recent past.

It has managed to gain market share by being the digital retailer of choice for music on independent labels focusing on the grown-up end of the market.

Some see this deal as the latest sign that the major labels are finally getting round to the idea of becoming more flexible and prepared to work with a wider range of retailers on less onerous terms licensing terms.

iTunes cuts/raises prices: Teens poised to shrug

With little (or no) fanfare, Apple’s iTunes opened its doors to a new pricing scheme, and song-based packages that the recording industry hopes will jazz up music sales.  Good luck.

Apple unveiled a three-tier price scheme – 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29. Since opening in 2003 all songs in the iTunes store have been priced at 99 cents.

So what sells at what price? A little scouring this morning yielded this comparison:

EMI Publishing has a dream: diversified revenues with MLK

EMI Publishing, the song publishing arm of EMI Music, has struck an interesting deal with the estate of Dr Martin Luther King Jr to manage the licensing of his words and speeches in recordings and music.

It’s an unusual deal for EMI Publishing, which is best known for managing iconic songs like ‘New York New York’ and ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ or the songwriting talents of the Arctic Monkeys and Beyonce. This is the first time the company has ever handled speeches and sermons, or in fact any non-song-based intellectual property, according to a spokesman.

Another interesting feature of the deal is that the unit will also handle the online image rights of Dr King. So if, for example, you’re building a website about the 1960s U.S. civil rights movement and you need to use King’s likeness, you might not have to call Getty Images but EMI Publishing.

Amy Winehouse: Who’s the daddy?

amywinehousedrunk.jpgThey say success has many fathers, and nowhere is that ever more evident than in the music business, where aging executives still argue over who first spotted the rasping rick-rolling talent that is Rick ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ Astley in a smoky London bar.

One talent everyone loves talking about, though not much about her music recently, is Amy Winehouse. In fact, two separate executives who’ve taken the top job at different companies both claimed to have signed the five-time Grammy Award-winning bad girl, according to press releases that landed in our inboxes this morning.

Nick Gatfield is joining EMI Music as president of A&R Labels, North America and UK. According to EMI’s release he joined from Universal Music where he had been president of Universal Island Records Group since 2001:

Google defections — trend?

Douglas Merrill Brain drain at Google?

The defection of Douglas Merrill, vice president of engineering at Google, is part of a growing trickle of senior managers to leave a company that topped Fortune magazine’s annual list of best companies to work for in 2007.

All the more surprising is that he’s leaving the college-like pastures of Googleplex for the growth-strapped music business at EMI to become head of EMI’s digital business. EMI announced earlier this year that it planned to cut some 2,000 jobs.

Google lost its vice president of global sales, Sheryl Sandberg, in March to Facebook. Then there’s George Reyes, Google CFO, who retired last year. Wired provides a longer list of defections and their new projects.