torsdag den 7. februar 2013

Warner Music wins Parlophone auction

Len Blavatnik’s Warner Music has won the auction for former EMI labels including Parlophone, the home to Coldplay, David Guetta and Pink Floyd, with a much higher than expected £487m offer that will allow Universal Music to recoup almost half of the money it spent on EMI.

The outcome of a disposal process demanded by European regulators as a condition of clearing Universal’s £1.2bn acquisition of EMI’s recorded music division last September brings to an end Warner’s near 15-year pursuit of EMI.

Warner was frustrated for years by regulators, and later outbid first by Guy Hands and then Universal, but the US group will become a slightly stronger number three in recorded music after Universal and Sony Music. Warner’s relatively small market share in Europe means the deal is not expected to encounter strong opposition from the European Commission.

Cost savings from integrating Parlophone could improve the return on Mr Blavatnik’s $3.3bn takeover of Warner Music, struck in 2011, but his offer far exceeded those of any rival bidder.

Warner was seen as being able to extract more savings from the acquisition than other bidders, but its victory will surprise some industry members who thought that the US group’s vocal lobbying against Universal’s EMI deal could count against it in the auction.

However, people involved in the negotiations said Warner’s bid was $100m or more ahead of other bidders, some of which had not even submitted final offers when Universal announced the agreed deal, which was struck as industry members gathered in Los Angeles for Sunday’s Grammy awards.

The outcome is a blow to other bidders. BMG, a joint venture between Bertelsmann and KKR, had joined forces with Sony Music for the auction, with other offers coming from Simon Fuller and Chris Blackwell, two music executives, and from Ronald Perelman, the billionaire US investor.

Universal and its French owner, Vivendi, have already sold Mute Records to BMG, and have other assets including Sanctuary, Jazzland and EMI’s share of the Now compilation series to sell which could raise an estimated £100m.

The Parlophone label group includes the Chrysalis label and former EMI recorded music businesses in nine European markets including France, Spain and Sweden. Universal will keep EMI labels including Virgin, Capitol and Blue Note, with artists including The Beatles, Katy Perry and Swedish House Mafia.

“We’re satisfied that our agreement with Warner Music will provide a home for [Parlophone label group] artists,” said Lucian Grainge, Universal’s chairman and chief executive, reiterating a pledge to invest in “rebuilding” EMI.

Universal and Vivendi were advised by Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, with legal advice from SJ Berwin, Shearman & Sterling and Smiths Law.
Parlophone has annual revenues of about £300m and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of about £70m, people involved in the auction said.

lørdag den 22. september 2012

Universal Music Wins Approval to Buy EMI Recorded Music

Vivendi SA (VIV)’s Universal Music Group won approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for its purchase of the recorded-music business of EMI Group, best known as the record label of the Beatles.
The FTC closed its review of the transaction, which allows the merger to go forward, following approval earlier today from European competition authorities after Universal Music agreed to sell about one-third of EMI assets to cut the combined group’s market share.
“Based on its review of company documents, discussions with industry participants and empirical analysis, commission staff did not find sufficient evidence of head-to-head competition to conclude that the combination of Universal and EMI would substantially lessen competition,” Richard Feinstein, director of the FTC’s bureau of competition, said in a statement.
Antitrust approval for the transaction comes almost a year after Universal Music agreed to buy London-based EMI’s recorded unit from Citigroup Inc. (C) for 1.2 billion pounds ($1.95 billion), effectively ending more than 80 years of business at EMI.

Major Companies

The takeover cuts the number of major record companies to three, as the industry faces challenges including illegal downloading and fewer CD sales.
“We have been working behind the scenes for this moment for about nine months, and we are very happy,” Universal Music Chief Executive Officer Lucian Grainge said in a phone interview.
With control over labels such as Virgin Records and Capitol, the next steps will be “about how we integrate, our ambition for the future and our intention to invest and rebuild with entrepreneurs, creative talent and music professionals,” Grainge said. The company is planning a “significant increase in investment,” particularly in Capitol records, he said.
Grainge also said he’s committed to achieving savings of 100 million pounds ($163 million) by integrating the two companies.
Among divestments, Universal Music will sell the Parlophone music label, home to Coldplay and David Bowie, as well as Black Sabbath’s record company Sanctuary, and the Chrysalis label, home to Depeche Mode, the European Commission said in a statement today. Universal will also avoid favorable terms for any new digital music deals in Europe for 10 years.
“The very significant commitments proposed by Universal will ensure that competition in the music industry is preserved,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

Opposition Voice

Public Knowledge, a Washington-based public interest group, opposed the transaction, calling on the FTC to block the merger entirely or demand stronger concessions appropriate for the U.S. market, such as ordering Universal Music to sell Capitol Records or the Island Def Jam Music Group.
“It is incredible that the FTC has not taken any action whatsoever to protect consumers and competition in the nascent digital music market,” said Jodie Griffin, staff attorney at Public Knowledge. “By failing to act to block this merger or even impose even one condition beyond that imposed by the European Commission, the FTC is allowing UMG to acquire unprecedented market power and amass a dominant collection of copyright holdings.”
Citigroup sold EMI’s publishing division in a separate transaction for $2.2 billion to a Sony Corp.-led group. That purchase was cleared by EU regulators in June.
Citigroup seized EMI from Guy Hands’s private equity firm, Terra Firma Partners Ltd., in February 2011 after it failed to meet loan terms. Hands bought EMI in 2007.

torsdag den 6. september 2012

Joe South, Singer-Songwriter From 70s, Dies at 72

Singer-songwriter Joe South, who performed hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s such as "Games People Play" and "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" and also penned songs including "Down in the Boondocks" for other artists, died Wednesday, his music publisher said. South was 72.
South, whose real name was Joseph Souter, died at his home in Buford, Ga., northeast of Atlanta, according to Marion Merck of the Hall County Coroner's office. Merck said South died after having a heart attack.
"He's one of the greatest songwriters of all time," said Butch Lowery, president of the Lowery Group, which published South's music. "His songs have touched so many lives. He's such a wonderful guy and loved by many."
South worked as a session guitar player on recordings of some of the biggest names of the 1960s — Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel, among others. But he had a string of hits of his own starting in the late 1960s that made his booming voice a familiar one on radio stations, with a style that some described as a mix of country and soul.
He is perhaps best known for the song "Games People Play," which reached No. 12 on the Billboard charts in 1969 and won him two Grammys for Best Contemporary Song and Song of the Year. The opening lines evoked the message songs of the era: "Oh the games people play now, every night and every day now, never meaning what they say now, never saying what they mean."
The song, which was released on South's debut album "Introspect," spoke against hate, hypocrisy and inhumanity.
He also had hits with "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" and "Don't It Make You Want to Go Home," and wrote the Grammy-nominated "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden" for country singer Lynn Anderson.
Earlier, South's song "Down in the Boondocks" was a 1965 hit for singer Billy Joe Royal. He performed on Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools," as well as on Bob Dylan's 1966 classic "Blonde on Blonde," a triumphant mix of rock, blues and folk that Rolling Stone magazine ranked No. 9 on its greatest-ever albums list. The magazine credits "expert local sessionmen" with helping to create "an almost contradictory magnificence: a tightly wound tension around Dylan's quicksilver language and incisive singing."
According to, South also backed up Eddy Arnold, Marty Robbins and Wilson Pickett.
But his music career was struck by tragedy when his brother, Tommy Souter, committed suicide in 1971. A biography of South on says he moved to Maui and retired from recording for a time starting in the mid-'70s, and that his career was complicated by a rough-around-the-edges personality. South's last album was "Classic Masters" in 2002.
According to South's website, he was born in Atlanta on Feb. 28, 1940. As a child he was interested in technology and developed his own radio station with a one-mile transmission area.
In 1958, South recorded his debut single, a novelty song called, "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor."
South was an inductee in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

mandag den 27. august 2012

Bobby Brown enters rehab

Brown, 43, agreed to enter a 90-day alcohol treatment program when he pleaded no contest in Los Angeles County to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher last April. He also was sentenced to 36 months of probation, according to his attorney, Tiffany Feder.

"Mr. Brown takes his agreement very seriously and admitted himself three weeks after concluding his honeymoon in Mexico during a break from the New Edition tour," spokesman Christopher Brown said. "Bobby is doing well and receiving services that comply with his agreement with the state of California."
Brown married Alicia Etheridge, his manager, in a ceremony in Hawaii in June. The couple got engaged in 2010 at a New Edition concert after dating for close to three years. They have a 3-year-old son, Cassius.

Bobby's children and loved ones are very proud of him," his wife said in a statement released Thursday. "We appreciate his fans' prayers and well wishes. Bobby is mentally in a good place."
Brown was previously married to the late Whitney Houston, who he divorced in 2007. In addition to Cassius, Brown has one daughter, Bobbi Kristina, from his relationship with Houston, as well as three other children.

Brown will return to the concert stage with his group New Edition and for his solo performances starting in Orlando, Florida, on September 1, his spokesman said.
The R&B artist released "Masterpiece," his first solo album in 14 years, in June.

tirsdag den 31. juli 2012

Romantic crooner Tony Martin dies at 98

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Tony Martin, the romantic singer who appeared in movie musicals from the 1930s to the 1950s and sustained a career in records, television and nightclubs from the Depression era into the 21st century, has died. He was 98.

Martin died of natural causes Friday evening at his West Los Angeles home, his friend and accountant Beverly Scott said Monday.

A peer of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, Martin sang full voice in a warm baritone that carried special appeal for his female audience. Among his hit recordings were "I Get Ideas," "To Each His Own," "Begin the Beguine" and "There's No Tomorrow."

"He's the ultimate crooner who outlasted all his contemporaries," musician and longtime friend Gabriel Guerrero said from his Oregon home. Martin recently sang to Guerrero over the telephone.

"He has truly remained the butterscotch baritone until he was 98," Guerrero added.

Although he never became a full-fledged movie star, he was featured in 25 films, most of them made during the heyday of the Hollywood musicals. A husky 6 feet tall and dashingly handsome, he was often cast as the romantic lead.
He married two movie musical superstars, Alice Faye and Cyd Charisse, and the latter union lasted 60 years, until her death in 2008.

Martin found his escape through music while growing up in San Francisco and Oakland amid a poor, close-knit Russian-Jewish family, enduring taunts and slights from gentile classmates.

"I always sang," he wrote. "I always played some instrument or other, real or imagined. ... At first, of course, my music was just for my own fun. I didn't recognize it right away as my passport away from poverty."

Performing on radio led to his break into the film business. His first singing role came in 1936's "Sing Baby Sing," which starred his future wife Faye and introduced the Ritz Brothers to the screen as a more frenetic version of the Marx Brothers.

As a contract player at Twentieth Century-Fox, Martin also appeared in "Pigskin Parade" (featuring a young Judy Garland), "Banjo on My Knee" (Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea), "Sing and Be Happy," "You Can't Have Everything" (Faye, Don Ameche), "Ali Baba Goes to Town" (comedian Eddie Cantor) and "Sally, Irene and Mary."

In 1940, he shifted to MGM and sang in such films as "The Ziegfeld Girl" (James Stewart, Lana Turner, Judy Garland), "The Big Store" (the Marx Brothers), "Till the Clouds Roll By," "Easy to Love" (Esther Williams) and "Deep in My Heart."

In 1948, he produced and starred in "Casbah," a well-received film-musical version of "Algiers" with a fine score by Harold Arlen and Leo Robin. He made singing tours of Europe and had a yearly contract at London's Palladium.

Martin had fallen in love with Faye while at Fox, where she was one of the studio's biggest stars. Married in 1937, the newlyweds were considered one of Hollywood's handsomest couples. But the marriage eroded because of career conflicts and his distaste for becoming known as Mr. Alice Faye. They divorced after two years.

Martin met Charisse, then a rising dance star at MGM, when they were dinner partners at a party given by their mutual agent. Just returned from the war, Martin was busy greeting old friends and paid her little attention.

They didn't meet until a year later, when the persistent agent arranged another date. This time they clicked, and they married in 1948. She had a son, Nicky, born of her first marriage to dance director Nico Charisse. She gave birth to Tony Jr. in 1950.

Charisse became a star at MGM during the 1950s, dancing with Fred Astaire in "The Band Wagon" and "Silk Stockings" and with Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain" and "Brigadoon."

In later years, Martin and Charisse put out a 1976 double autobiography, "The Two of Us," and often toured in a singing and dancing shows. He continued appearances into his 90s, his voice only slightly tarnished by time.

"His voice is more or less intact," a New York Times critic wrote when he appeared at a New York club in early 2008. "Time has certainly taken its toll. He no longer belts. ... But the essential Tony Martin sound was still discernible."
Martin was born Dec. 25, 1913. His parents divorced when he was an infant.

"I was a Christmas present in a family that didn't believe in Christmas," Martin wrote. "The name they gave me when I was born on Christmas Day, 1913, was Alvin Morris. Tony Martin wasn't born for a long time after that."

He attended St. Mary's College of California, where he and other students formed a popular jazz combo, the Five Red Peppers. After college, he formed Al Morris and His Orchestra, and played in San Francisco nightclubs like the Chez Paree, often appearing on late-night national radio.

MGM chief Louis B. Mayer heard the bandleader sing "Poor Butterfly" on radio and ordered a screen test. It was a failure, but an agent landed Morris a contract at RKO, where he got a new name. He had enjoyed the music of Freddie Martin at the Coconut Grove, so he borrowed the name. "Tony" came from a magazine story.

His career at RKO was notable for a one-line bit in the 1936 "Follow the Fleet," which starred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. He had better luck at Fox, but nightclubbing every night with a succession of film beauties detracted from his work.
"I was so busy having fun that I didn't even learn my lines," he admitted in 1955. "I muffed a wonderful chance, and that was the end of me for a while."

World War II brought the one big scandal in his life. He enlisted in the Navy in 1941 and was given a specialist ranking. A year later, a Navy officer who facilitated Martin's enlistment was court-martialed, accused of accepting a $950 automobile from him. The singer was not charged but was dismissed from the Navy for unfitness. He asked his draft board for immediate induction into the Army and served three years in Asia.

The scandal lingered over Martin's head after the war, but he managed to rebuild his career with radio, films, personal appearances and records.

He is survived by stepson Nico Charisse.

Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City was handling funeral arrangements.

søndag den 22. juli 2012

USHER Stepson Dies After Jetski Accident

Usher's 11-year-old stepson has passed away this morning from injuries suffered in a tragic jetski accident in Georgia earlier this month ... TMZ has learned.

Doctors removed 11-year-old Kyle Glover from life support after it was determined the injuries were too severe to overcome. We're told Kyle's mother, Tameka Foster, struggled tremendously with the decision.

According to our sources, Tameka is understandably devastated.

Glover was injured on July 8 ... as he was riding in an inner tube that was connected to a pontoon in Lake Lanier. According to authorities, a family friend who was riding a jetski behind the pontoon lost control and collided with Glover's tube.

The accident is currently under investigation.

torsdag den 19. juli 2012

Branson starts talks with Universal Music on Virgin Records deal

(the Guardian) Mogul says label he founded has been 'mismanaged' over the past decade and is a 'sleeping beauty' that could be rejuvenated

Sir Richard Branson has opened talks with Universal Music in his bid to buy back Virgin Records, saying the label behind the Spice Girls had been "mismanaged" over the past decade.
Branson, speaking for the first time about his ambition to return to the business he started more than 40 years ago, said it was a "sleeping beauty" of an asset as he talked up his hopes for a deal.
He has spoken to Universal Music chief executive Lucian Grainge in the last 24 hours – although the last day has been a busy one for Branson who celebrated his 62nd birthday in the Caribbean.
Branson said that the label, which in its halcyon days released records by artists including the Sex Pistols, the Spice Girls and the Rolling Stones, has been "mismanaged in the last 10 years".
Virgin Records is on a list of labels that Universal is considering offloading in order to gain clearance from European competition regulators for its £1.2bn takeover of EMI.
However, with Universal's owner Vivendi locked in negotiations with Brussels over the disposals needed to win approval for the EMI deal, it is not clear if Universal will definitely sell Virgin. Branson's activity, though, suggests that he is hoping to bounce Grainge into a quick sale.
Branson is set to team up with Patrick Zelnik, the French entrepreneur who launched Virgin Records in France in 1980, and possibly other financial backers to put together a business plan to buy the label.
"I have had informal talks with both Lucian Grainge and Patrick Zelnik about Virgin Records," said Branson. "I have known Lucian and Patrick for both 30 years. They are great record men and Patrick has committed to revitalise Virgin Records – which has been mismanaged in the last 10 years."
He added that he was serious about a bid in partnership with his former colleague: "The potential disposal of Virgin Records by Universal is an exciting opportunity and I am keen to try to work on an arrangement with Patrick Zelnik to acquire the company I started in the 1970s." No price was mentioned.
Branson said that he and Grainge viewed Virgin Records as a "sleeping beauty" which could yet become an "innovative and leading label once again with the right management and investment".
Zelnik, who has an 80% stake in French label Naive, said that while Universal is focusing on disposing of assets to appease market share issues in Europe the business plan for Virgin is predicated on an international basis.
"We are only interested if it is [a] global [deal]," said Zelnik. "We are just starting to get figures together for the business plan."
It is expected that Universal will know by the end of the month whether the European commission has accepted that the concessions go far enough to give a green light to the EMI deal.
Other assets on the list reportedly include labels such as Chrysalis UK, excluding Robbie Williams, Ensign, Mute, Jazzland and Sanctuary.
Universal was originally bullish about pushing the deal through the regulatory process, and offered few concessions.
However, the music giant is under immense pressure as it has guaranteed to pay EMI's owner Citibank the entire £1.2bn by the middle of September regardless of whether the deal goes through.
• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication".