UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from Breakingviews:

Music gods again divert EMI’s destiny

By Jeffrey Goldfarb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The music gods have meddled again with EMI’s destiny. In the minds of financiers and industry wags, the union of the British music group - home to the Beatles and the Beastie Boys - with U.S. rival Warner Music was just a matter of time. But the star-crossed match has been knocked off course again by the sale of EMI’s two divisions to Sony and Vivendi’s Universal Music.

EMI’s path to this point has been torturous. An overleveraged buyout in 2007 led to seizure of the music company by lender Citigroup earlier this year. The bank, a reluctant owner, appeared to have a quick way out when billionaire Len Blavatnik acquired Warner soon after. The logic for a deal is nearly as compelling as it was when the two companies first tried to merge in 2000. EMI and Warner remain the runts among the four majors, complement each other geographically and present cost-cutting opportunities.

Yet Universal, the world’s largest music company, and number-two Sony have bold plans of their own. With twice as much revenue as Warner but about the same operating margin, Universal needs cost reductions to capitalize on its scale. Though it’s paying a rich seven times EBITDA through March for EMI’s recorded music business, it expects about $160 million of annual savings. Taxed and capitalized, those should cover over half the $1.9 billion purchase price.

from Fan Fare:

Laden in Red – Chris de Burgh sells fine wines

Chris de Burgh"The Lady in Red" singer Chris de Burgh has decided to cash in on surging prices for fine wines, offering 320 bottles and 84 magnums of mainly red varieties at Christie's in March which are expected to fetch in the region of 200,000 pounds ($320,000).

“Looking at the economics of the wine trade and how the business of selling wine fluctuates, I decided now was the right time," he said in a statement. Not surprising -- Asian buyers, particularly from China, have piled into the wine market in the last two years sending prices soaring. Christie's sold wine worth $71.2 million in 2010, a whopping 70 percent increase over 2009, and fellow musician Andrew Lloyd Webber made a cool 3.5 million pounds from a much larger wine sale in Hong Kong last month.

from Fan Fare:

Can Tempah turn BRIT nods into awards?

PlantHe's leader of the pack in terms of BRIT nominations tonight, but can London rapper Tinie Tempah convert them into prizes when the awards ceremony is held on Feb. 15? Bookmakers would have us believe that British pop's biggest night could be one of disappointment, not delirium, with Ladbrokes backing the 22-year-old to scoop just one of his four nods, and arguably the least prestigious of them all -- Best Breakthrough Act.

Not that the category is unimportant -- a BRIT is a BRIT after all, and, after a Grammy, perhaps music's most coveted statuette. But when you think that Tempah is in the running for best male solo, best British single and, most important of all, best British album, a Breakthrough prize alone may not be enough to keep him happy.

Raging against the X Factor machine

Photo
-

Simon Cowell says the Internet campaign to keep X factor winner Joe McElderry from the coveted Christmas No. I  spot is aimed at him rather than the type of music the show produces.

He calls the campaign stupid.

But critics of the show loathe what they call the “karaoke” of X Factor and thousands have backed the push to get an anti-establishment track by American rockers Rage Against the Machine up into the top slot next week.

from FaithWorld:

Did Jesus headline Glastonbury before Springsteen?

glastonburyJesus Christ may have visited an English town now renowned for a raucous modern-day music festival to meet ancient druids, a new film argues.  "And Did Those Feet" explores the theory that Jesus accompanied Joseph of Arimathea on a visit to the area around the southern English town of Glastonbury. (Photo: At the end of Glastonbury Festival 2009, 29 June 2009/Luke MacGregor)

The Glastonbury Festival held on a farm near the town draws some of the 21st century's biggest music stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Neil Young and U2 to the world's largest open air music and arts festival.

Cutting off the music file-sharers

-

CHILE/Repeat offenders who persist in illegally downloading music from file-sharing sites such as Limewire could be blocked from accessing the Web under government proposals.

“Technology and consumer behavior is fast-changing and it’s important that Ofcom has the flexibility to respond quickly to deal with unlawful file-sharing,” says Minister for Digital Britain Stephen Timms.

from Fan Fare:

Carmen – “trollops, treachery, filthy vices”

Perhaps the world of opera could learn a thing or two about marketing to the masses. Long seen as the bastion of wealthy, ageing patrons and obsessive fans, opera houses say they are trying to reach out to a wider audience by bringing down ticket prices and beaming performances on to giant screens and into cinemas.

The Sun tabloid in Britain has an alternative approach -- make opera sexy. Aftermozart the doors of the notoriously pricey Royal Opera House were thrown open to Sun readers last year for a cut-price performance of Mozart's "Don Giovanni", a similar offer has been announced for Bizet's "Carmen" on October 3. All tickets will be priced between 7.50 and 30 pounds ($12-50), a far cry from regular prices of up to 230 pounds per seat, not including the exclusive boxes.

from The Great Debate UK:

Can anyone stop the dominance of iTunes?

**Tom Dunmore is Editor-in-Chief of Stuff magazine. The views expressed are his own.**

tomdunmoreeicstuffmagazine2Amazon’s music download service has finally arrived in the UK. That’s great news for music fans, who will benefit from lower prices and greater choice - but it’s not going to save the music industry from the dominance of iTunes.

Is file-sharing morally wrong?

Photo
-

keyboardhand-sherwincrasto.jpgA woman who shared a pinball game online has been ordered to pay 16,000 pounds in compensation and legal costs to its creator.

The Patents County Court in London ruled in favour of TopWare Interactive, a U.S. computer game developer that said she had infringed its copyright.

Can music piracy be stopped?

Photo
-

Teenagers love music and films – but today’s generation don’t expect to pay for them when they can download them for free over the Internet.

The entertainment industry says it is losing millions of pounds from online piracy but Internet service providers have been reluctant to police the activities of their customers.

  •