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.

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).

eMusic gets Universal Music catalog, overhauls song pricing

LadyGagaInMeatBe careful what you wish for because you might just get another major label’s catalog.

eMusic, the independent music lovers’ independent digital music site, is well, no longer that independent. As of November, it will now have music from the world’s number one music company Universal Music, adding more than 250,000 tracks to eMusic’s catalog bringing it to 10 million.

But with the big dog joining the pound eMusic has had to adjust its monthly subscription model. It will no longer offer a fixed number of song credits and will instead switch to good-old fashioned dollar and cents pricing for individual songs. For example right now a starter package of $11.99 will get you 24 song credits a month but going forward $11.99 a month will get you as many songs as $11.99 will buy. eMusic argues that their price points are on average 20 percent to 50 percent cheaper than iTunes or Amazon MP3 store which means many of their songs are around the 50 cent-mark.

Universal Music pulls videos off MTV website

Universal Music Group has pulled its music videos off of MTV’s websites  in a dispute over syndication rights for Universal’s co-owned music site Vevo.

With Universal Music’s previous online music video contract with MTV Networks ending on Aug 1, the music company had planned to use Vevo as the distribution platform for its music videos. But the problem for MTV is that would mean adverts around the videos would be sold by Vevo, not MTV,  something the music television business found difficult to agree to.

Vevo was launched in December by co-owners Universal Music and Sony Music Entertainment as a dedicated online venue for premium quality music videos –  an MTV for the digital age if you like. It features music from EMI as well but Warner Music Group is yet to ink a deal.

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.

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.

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: