24.07.10 Music Week 3
Could it be magic? It’s Robbie vs Robbie
ONE OF THE YEAR’s most intriguing chart battles will see Robbie Williams solo go up against Robbie Williams as a member of Take That for the Christmas albums crown.
The singer had already created global headlines when he announced earlier this year that he had been writing with Take That colleague Gary Barlow, with the two new collaborations – Shame and Heart And I – appearing on Williams’ new best-of, In And Out of Consciousness, due for release by Virgin on October 11.
But this was small beer compared to the tabloid frenzy last Thursday, when Williams confirmed he would be rejoining Take That, who he famously left in 1995 amid a sea of acrimony.
The reunion took place in New York last September, following Take That’s The Circus Live tour. All five band members have written songs for a new, as-yet-untitled album, which will come out in November a month after the Williams release.
The album, which has been produced by Madonna collaborator Stuart Price, will come out on Polydor, with whom the reformed Take That have enjoyed notable chart success.
Polydor president Ferdy UngerHamilton says the Take That album is “a very modern sounding record.” “It has what Take That do and what Robbie Williams does,” he says. “I think it is the musical event of the year and also an absolutely brilliant album. It is going to surprise some people. It is very cutting-edge.”
What is more, Unger-Hamilton says the timing of the two albums’ release will be complementary rather than competitive. “The plan was put together by the band,” he says. “It is really brilliant, succinct.”
His view is backed by an insider from the Williams camp, who says, “We are not at all concerned about the scheduling as we actually believe this is going to be a Robbie Williams/Take That Christmas. We believe both will do incredibly well. We’ve got a really great promotional plot for Robbie Williams, which we’re very confident about, and we then, of course, go into Take That.”
The reunion is said to be intended for just one year, with plans for a huge stadium tour next summer. However, with the best-of fulfilling Williams’ obligations to EMI under his current deal, all eyes will be on his next move.
Unger-Hamilton says Williams is a “brilliant, great British artist but I am really, really overjoyed to have him as a part of Take That and that’s enough”.
John Penrose impresses Musicians’ Union
Minister could be live saviour
Live By Gordon Masson
LICENSING MINISTER JOHN PENROSE could turn out to be the music industry’s new best friend after the Musicians’ Union revealed it held “a very positive meeting” with the Conservative MP, in which it became apparent they were dealing with someone who is sympathetic towards live music.
Musicians’ Union general secretary John Smith tells Music Week that the meeting at the Department for Culture Media and Sport last Tuesday was “possibly the best meeting on the subject I’ve had with a government minister since I started banging on about it nearly 10 years ago.”
Armed with copies of letters from chief constables around the country, who stated that live music enhances their communities and does not lead to disorder, the MU team were impressed by the knowledge Penrose already has of the issues and his openness to look at all possible remedies.
“He has definitely done his homework,” says Smith. “We went into the meeting and stated that our most radical approach – which we’re prepared to lobby about long term – would be to take music out of licensing completely and he didn’t reject that proposal out of hand.”
The minister also seems to agree that smaller venues need help. “He has great sympathy for small venue owners, but he also wants to meet with representatives of the Local Government Authority – who are our main adversaries – to hear their
‘Possibly the best meeting on the subject I’ve had with a government minister...’ – the MU’s John Smith on John Penrose (pictured)
concerns,” continues Smith.
“However, rather than picking up on the big screen example we usually use to show that the current Licensing Act is unfair, he was struck by the fact that venues can easily choose the option to go for recorded music and he was keen to establish what can be done to make things fairer.”
Penrose has suggested one way of moving the debate forward would be to hold a forum in the DCMS offices where interested parties such as the LGA, LACORS, the police, the Musicians’ Union and UK Music could come together to discuss solutions that might work for all concerned.
Smith adds, “It genuinely seems that the minister wants to help us and the meeting was a great indicator that he is taking [us] seriously.” firstname.lastname@example.org
THE BUSINESS OF MUSIC www.musicweek.com
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FEATURES ACCORDING TO PLAN
Plan B’s big hit in an unpredictable second quarter
BMG Rights Management to follow up acquisition of Stage Three with another big buy in Q3
BMG sets stage to take on the majors
Publishing By Charlotte Otter and Paul Williams
BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT is planning another significant publishing acquisition before the end of the third quarter of 2010, following the purchase of UK independent Stage Three last week.
CEO Hartwig Masuch says the deal has allowed the organisation to “compete at eye-level in the UK with the majors” as it bids to become one of the world’s biggest music publishers.
Stage Three is the third significant purchase made by BMG and its owners, media group Bertelsmann and KKR private equity, this year and follows from the acquisition of US indie Cherry Lane and the Adage IV catalogue.
The German-owned company has been vocal about taking advantage of the fall in music asset prices due to the financial crisis and Masuch says the industry should expect more acquisitions from BMG by the end of the year. This will include acquisitions in the UK where the company has struck individual publishing deals with artists including Leona Lewis.
“We do a lot of small acquisitions almost daily, but we will also be announcing one more significant acquisition before the end of quarter three,” Masuch says, noting the company is very active in Europe.
“We have made a lot of effort in the last half in the US, where we now feel very confident and the UK is just
BMG gains rights to JLS’s The Club Is Alive among others following its acquisition of Stage Three a fascinating market. Obviously if someone is interested in selling to us or doing a joint venture with us then this will be a big priority.”
Stage Three CEO Steve Lewis has no doubt about the scale of the ambitions of his company’s new owner, which was set up by Bertelsmann in 2008, after selling its
50% stake in Sony BMG to Sony Corp for $1.2bn (£0.94bn) and having already sold BMG Publishing to Universal for €1.63bn (£1.36bn).
“They have very deep pockets,” he says. “They have a huge amount of equity, they’re resourced and their ambition is to compete with the best music companies in the world.”
Although BMG has declined to say how much it paid for its purchase of Stage Three, it called the move “significant”, comparing the deal to its purchase of Cherry Lane in the spring – a deal thought to have been worth just under $80m (£52m).
Masuch explains BMG shareholders are all “very supportive” in increasing their investment in the company and notes the business has also received “very positive feedback” from various banks.
He stresses any purchase made by the company had to make “financial sense” for investors and adds, “We don’t have an unlimited budget, but what is important to us is if a deal makes financial sense to our shareholders.”
Lewis says the deal is long term, adding the careers of his writers “will be in the hands of experienced music executives”.
“BMG are not someone going for a short-term deal,” he says. “They have the means and considerable resources and my investors were private equity funds. They were not going to stay involved forever and I knew that when we did sell we would sell to a company that was going to be a good owner and take care of things.”
Since launching Stage Three seven years ago, backed by Apax Partners and Ingenious Venture, Lewis and his team have built up a business with a diverse range of interests including a catalogue of songs taking in Aerosmith’s Walk This Way, Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street and Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, a roster of contemporary hit writers such as Andrew Frampton – co-writer of JLS’s chart-topping The Club Is Alive – and Bernard Butler and a successful US business in LA and Nashville.
And although the future of Lewis and his staff, including Stage Three’s US head Lionel Conway, and its Notting Hill base have yet to be determined, Masuch says the key to BMG’s strategy is not about downsizing companies. email@example.com
British and Irish venues top the world, says Pollstar report
BRITAIN’S CLAIM AS THE STRONGEST LIVE MUSIC MARKET in the world has been backed up by the latest Pollstar figures, which feature
“These latest figures show that Irish people love live music, Irish promoters are innovative and clever and that our naming partners, O2, have been hugely supportive,” says The O2 Dublin general manager Cormac Rennick.
A spokesman for the MEN
Arena in Newcastle in the top 10 selling arenas worldwide, with combined ticket sales for those six UK and Ireland venues topping 2.9m at the mid-year point.
Indeed, of the 100 venues in the Pollstar figures, no fewer than 10 are in the UK and Ireland, with to the number of events we’re hosting in 2010, it isn’t as busy as last year and that’s a trend we’re seeing across the UK industry.”
Despite topping the Pollstar chart, The O2’s numbers were hit by the 23 cancelled Michael Jackson shows in the first quarter. But Davis
Best-selling venues Top 10
Tickets sold Venue 1,031,748 The O2 arena, London 664,080 MEN Arena,
373,898 The O2 Dublin 336,482 Madison Sq Garden
Arena, New York
326 053 Philips Arena Atlanta
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UNEARTHED MAGNETIC MAN
Music Week editor Paul Williams says, “It has long been my aim to increase Music Week’s coverage of the world of brands and we could find no better partners in achieving this than FRUKT, who over the last 10 years have proven to be real experts in this field. I am really looking forward to d e v e l o p i n g this relationship with FRUKT.” FRUKT Communications CEO Anthony Ackenhoff adds, “The role brands are playing in the music industry has developed dramatically over the last few years. With numerous new sponsorship, endorsement and platform deals being forged within the culture of music, this is now a critical revenue area for the music business. FRUKT has a strong heritage in both music and branded entertainment and we look forward to bringing our expert knowledge to MW readers.”
As editor of FRUKT Source, Fitzgerald oversees a “brand resource” offering insight into the cultural trends surrounding music, film, fashion and the wider entertainment space.
As well as editing FRUKT Source, he also writes extensively on brand activity for a wide range of marketing and sponsorship publications. His experience of the music industry stretches over more than a decade, enabling him to provide a deep understanding of brands and the role they can play in the development of the business.
FRUKT Source is part of FRUKT Communications, which is billed as a one-stop music, entertainment and lifestyle marketing agency specialising in creating experiences and content for brands that want to engage audiences.
It was set up 10 years ago by Jack Horner and Anthony Ackenhoff and since its launch has worked with many leading music companies as well as some of the biggest brands, including Nokia, CocaCola, Gaymers and Topman.
Dubstep duo front EMI Publishing’s artist management arm
FEATURES GLASS HALF FULL? 14 There are glimmers of hope in our sales analysis as 2010 reaches the halfway point BRIMFUL OF ASHER 16 The former Beatles wingman recalls what made his an extraordinary career FROM THE MENU 18 EMI Label Services takes a mix and match approach as it gains increasing success with its releases