MediaFile

TodayInMusic: Sony Music may have no CEO in a few weeks

BeyoncePerformsSony Corp still hasn’t confirmed to insiders who will replace outgoing Sony Music CEO Rolf Schmidt Holtz, whose contract ends on March 31st. Stories (including ours) have been doing the rounds for at least 3 months now that Schmidt Holtz will be replaced by current Universal Music Group chairman Doug Morris but, perhaps unsurprisingly, that move is proving complicated.

Sources say Morris has to give a year’s notice, which would take him to Jan 1 2012 at the earliest. The problem is Schmidt Holtz has made clear to his Sony Corp he has no intention of extending his contract as he’s ready to retire, move back home to Hamburg and concentrate on his various investments like TeVeo.

If Sony and Universal can hash out some agreement on Morris’ contract, he may be able to start as early as July 1, insiders said.  But that would still mean that the good ship Sony Music might be without a captain for three months, not a great thing in an industry where uncertainty reigns.

One option for Sony might be to put Sony USA CFO Rob Wiesenthal in charge  temporarily until Morris can come on board.

(Photo: Reuters, picture of Sony Music artist Beyonce)

Today In Music: Sony Music boss invests in start-up, fuels exit speculation

Doug Morris UMGSony Music Entertainment Rolf Schmidt-Holtz’s personal investment in Hamburg-based entertainment technology company TeVeo has sparked off speculation that his departure is imminent — which it almost certainly is, but not necessarily because of his investment.

As is well known by now, Schmidt-Holtz is very likely to leave Sony Music on March 31st when his contract expires after five years on the hotseat. He will be a partner in TeVeo following an investment, which was cleared by Sony, and is believed to be around 10 percent.  We’ve been told by a source that the investment and his likely departure in March are not linked.

So if he does leave what will that mean for Sony Music, still struggling to present a completely united front to the world since the 2004 merger between Sony Music and BMG Entertainment?

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: 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).

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.

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 Amazon.com 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.

Global music sales keep falling, pretty much everywhere

The global recorded music sales tanked in 2008, according to figures from the music trade body IFPI, which finally confirmed what we all expected. The worldwide decline was led by a sharp 31 percent drop-off in physical format sales (mainly CDs) in the US. Even though US digital sales grew 16.5 percent it couldn’t make up the shortfall, and overall US sales were down 19 percent.

The trends were similar in the Europe where sales fell by 6.3 percent.

It’s not all gloom and doom though. Sales were up 1 percent in Asia, because it was the one region where the growth in digital sales managed to make up for the fall in CD sales. That will likely be due to the fact that CD sales in some Asian countries has never been properly developed due to piracy. Many labels are further along in using digital-only formats in Asia.

Phil Hardy, analyst at The View, said while physical recorded music sales are in terminal decline, a new business is emerging for recorded music companies in which the digital and ancillary exploitation of their rights are growing. Many in the music business are hoping that licensing music rights to social media sites like Imeem and Pandora or mobile music services beyond just ringtones will be a major growth area in years ahead.