28.08.10 Music Week 3
Sony and Talk Talk sign a new TV deal
X Factor talks up new sponsorship
Television By Ben Cardew
Annie Lennox celebrates signing with Island co-presidents Ted Cockle and Darcus Beese
Fuller concludes long-term Lennox deal with Universal SIMON FULLER HAS SIGNED HIS SECOND DEAL with Universal Music Group within a matter of weeks, after completing a long-term worldwide recording agreement with his charge Annie Lennox.
The tie-up with Universal will begin with Lennox’s first festive album A Christmas Cornucopia, which will be released in the UK through Island on November 22 and through Decca in the US and the rest of the world. It will include interpretations of some of her favourite Christmas carols and a new composition appropriately called Universal Child.
Fuller’s deal with Universal for Lennox, whom he has managed for 21 years, comes just three weeks after it was announced he had signed a marketing and distribution deal with the major for his US TV creation American Idol.
Since its first season in 2002 the talent show had enjoyed a tie-up with Sony Music, also the previous home of Lennox whose entire output since 1980 with The Tourists, Eurythmics and as a solo artist had been through the major or its one-time partner BMG.
Fuller says he and Lennox are thrilled to be working with Island and Universal around the world. “We are looking forward very much to a long, happy and successful partnership for many years to come,” he adds.
SONY MUSIC HAS AGREED A DEAL with Talk Talk to soundtrack the company’s sponsorship of the seventh series of the X Factor, which started last Saturday.
The deal builds on Talk Talk’s “Bright Dance” X Factor campaign last year, in which members of the public recorded their own performance to a backing track, with the best entrants being aired in idents surrounding X Factor ad breaks.
For this season the two parties have taken the deal one step further. Working closely with the relevant publishers, Sony has licensed 11 tracks from its catalogue, from new tracks such as Chipmunk’s Oopsy Daisy to classics like Europe’s The Final Countdown, with punters invited to create their own video using the Bright Star Studio microsite (www.talktalk.co.uk/xfactor).
To do this, punters sing along – or otherwise perform – to the tracks on the site, recording their performance via their webcam. A simple editing suite then allows them to add visual effects to their video, which they can download and share online. The best videos will be chosen to be aired on Talk Talk’s ad break idents on The X Factor.
The deal means the tracks will reach one of Britain’s biggest TV audiences – last year’s season of the X Factor regularly reported an audience of 14m plus, reaching 19.1m for the final, in which Joe McElderry triumphed.
Sony creative sync manager Abby Newell says the agreement will provide “wonderful exposure” for the 11 tracks in the run-up to Christmas but will also go beyond the classic sync deal, with Talk Talk hosting click-to-buy links for each track on the microsite and the possibility that the 11 tracks will be com-
Universal Music Group co-CEO Lucian Grainge says the major is delighted to be part of the next exciting chapter in Lennox’s career, noting, “There are precious few artists who redefine the boundaries of popular music like Annie.”
Lennox says the album is something she has wanted to do for many years. “It’s a true labour of love and I feel very fortunate to be in partnership with such a cutting-edge team, especially when I’m at a stage in my creativity when I want to diversify and pursue my passion in my own individual way,” she says.
“The album Annie has recorded is timeless and inspiring, a very special showcase for her extraordinary voice,” adds Universal UK chairman and CEO David Joseph. “This record is just the start of what feels like a natural and very exciting new partnership between Annie and Island Records.” It’s back: this year’s X Factor will feature new judges including Pixie Lott (pictured)
piled on an album in time for Christmas.
Sony Music director of music for film, TV, advertising and computer games Ian Neil adds, “My team and I worked closely with Talk Talk’s ad agency CHI, helping source the right blend of songs and also helping them acquire publishing rights, so we technically acted as their music supervisors.
“I think we ended up with a very good, broad range of songs which I’m sure will help enhance the interactive element of X Factor, which is key to the show and its sponsors.”
The seventh series of the X Factor, a TalkbackThames/Syco TV production, launched last Saturday at 7.30pm on ITV1.
As in previous year, contestants are divided into four categories (boys, girls, “overs” aged 28+ and groups).
Judges being lined up to join Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole include Geri Halliwell, Natalie Imbruglia, Katy Perry, Nicole Scherzinger and Pixie Lott, while Dermot O’Leary returns as host.
Details of individual shows are still scant – many of the audition shows are still being edited – but Cowell promises the series will be “different in a lot of ways”. “Things have moved on and the show will reflect that,” he adds.
Meanwhile, the show’s website (itv.com/xfactor) has been revamped to include more video content and will also feature online karaoke.
TalkbackThames Digital, ITV and Nokia have also created a free X Factor Ovi App featuring a combination of video content, news and images related to the show, while the first X factor magazine, published by Haymarket Network under licence, will go on sale in September. firstname.lastname@example.org
THE BUSINESS OF MUSIC www.musicweek.com
NEWS X-RATED TALK Sony agrees a deal with Talk Talk to soundtrack seventh series of the X Factor
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Operational boost for EMI as it acquires Digitalstores
Acquisitions By Charlotte Otter and Ben Carden
EMI HAS BOUGHT direct to consumer e-commerce service Digitalstores.co.uk as it looks to strengthen its Label Services division.
The company, which operates D2C stores for acts including The Beatles, Hot Chip, the Prodigy and Pet Shop Boys, will continue to be run by CEO Russel Coultart out of its Kensal Rise office, with Coultart taking on the additional role of vice president of direct to consumer for EMI Europe.
Coultart will report to Peter Palmer, EMI Music’s senior vice president of global merchandising and D2C. Of Digitalstores’ 20 employees, one is in consultation over his position, but the rest will continue to work as normal.
The acquisition, which follows EMI’s purchase of Loudclothing.com in 2009, is intended to bring additional experience of D2C to EMI, allowing the major to offer more services to its own artists, as well as independent artists, via its Label Services arm.
The news comes as EMI holding company Maltby Capital revealed its accounts for the financial year 2009– 2010. They show strong operational improvements at the major, with revenue up to £1.65bn from £1.57bn in the previous year driven by the re-release of The Beatles’ catalogue, which generated more than 13m after tax and the major says it will not be able to satisfy its banking covenants with Citigroup, which funded Terra Firma’s £4.2bn buyout of EMI in 2007.
Although EMI has a provisional commitment from Terra Firma to provide the £26.9m it predicts it will need to meet covenant repayments for the rest of the year, it expects a “further significant shortfall” when it is tested again in March 2011. If this happens, Terra Firma will need to ask investors for a further boost in equity to inject into EMI.
EMI Group CEO Roger Faxon is confident investors will come up with the necessary funds. “The logic is pretty clear. They would not have put £100m into the business [in 2010] if they thought that this year or any year in the future that they wouldn’t have a business, so it’s only logical that they put it in to make a return on the investment and they will continue to resolve the covenant issues,” he says, explaining it is also in EMI’s lenders’ interest to keep the business growing into the future.
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Profit and loss EMI results 2007–10
Of course, EMI will not be able to rely on money generated by a high-profile Beatles’ reissue campaign every financial year, as it looks to pay off its debts, but Faxon is confident that the company’s release schedule over the next financial year is strong enough.
“We don’t only just represent The Beatles – this year sees the release of Robbie Williams’ Greatest Hits coming out, as well as UK artists such as KT Tunstall and newer artists who are stepping up like Tinie Tempah and Eliza Doolittle,” he says. “There’s a lot going on and we just have to hope that the music is as good as we think it will be.”
In addition, Faxon says there are important issues to consider within the company other than debt.
“We are not in a situation where the business is underperforming – it is meeting all its bills, including restructuring costs, capital costs and all of its debts services,” he explains. “EMI is a strong business and getting stronger. There are two issues which are more important here – the underlying value of EMI’s assets and the way the debt works within the covenant.”
The first issue, he says, boils
Will iTunes pour cold water on pre-releases?
ITUNES.CO.UK IS UNDERSTOOD to be offering increased support for tracks that go on sale at the same time as they are released to radio, in a move that could significantly impact record companies’ release plans.
While most tracks in the UK are typically released to radio some six weeks before they go on sale in a bid to create pre-release excitement and maximise initial chart positions, there have been calls from quarters of the industry – notably the MMF – for the two dates to coincide.
MMF CEO Jon Webster believes the long lead times between a record being played on the radio and its availability in stores create fertile ground for pirates, with many genuine fans having no alternative but to illegally download a new track they have heard on the radio.
Apple says there is no new editorial policy on iTunes and that all singles are considered for editorial coverage, which can include the free single of the week download, the free discovery download and the weekly new music email blast.
However, several industry sources tell Music Week that iTunes.co.uk is pushing for radio and release dates to coincide and, while it will continue to stock the same range of tracks, the store is increasingly supporting songs which go on sale at the same time as they are added to radio playlists.
“iTunes are just joining in and say it is a bit crazy to keep
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