Thursday, April 27, 2017

Certain Songs #862: The Kinks – “Arthur” | Medialoper

Album: Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
Year: 1969

After a whole album that basically spanned the history of the U.K., the Kinks finish the album that they started off exhorting her majesty Queen Victoria with a paean to the titular character, about whom they’re worrying way more than the Queen.

Musically, “Arthur” is the simplest, least-cluttered song on the record — no keyboards, no horns, driven mostly a Dave Davies’ 12-string guitar riff that barely kept from tripping over itself.

But that was all they needed, of course, because “Arthur” is one last summing up of the story and themes of the rest of the album.

If only life were easy it would be such fun
Things would be more equal
And be plenty for everyone
Arthur the world’s gone and passed you by
Don’t you know it, don’t you know it
You can cry, cry all night but it won’t make it right
Don’t ya know it
Don’t ya know it

Of course, Ray Davies having sympathy for someone for whom the world has passed by is basically his sweet spot, so while at first, it might seem that he’s making fun of poor Arthur — like just about any any of his peers would be, if they even deigned to include someone like Arthur in their songs about decadence and pinball — he soon makes his feelings clear, bringing the entire band in on the chorus.

Arthur we know and we sympathize
Don’t ya know it, don’t ya know it
Arthur we like you and want to help you
Somebody loves you don’t you know it

And they hammer that point, asking Arthur “don’t you know it?” over and over and over, making sure that he gets it — The Kinks are on his side.

But not just his side. During the coda — over handclaps!! — first Ray, and eventually, the rest of the Kinks start chanting over the ringing guitars and rolling drums.

Oh! we love you and want to help you
Oh! we love you and want to help you
Oh! we love you and want to help you
Somebody loves you, don’t you know it?

By the third or fourth time around, it seems like it changes to “All, we love you and want to help you.” In other words, not just Arthur, but you and me, as well. And while I’m no doubt reading too much into this, I choose to believe the coda of “Arthur” turns into the most positive statement of love and support for their fanbase that The Kinks ever recorded.


Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page


Certain Songs #861: The Kinks – “Shangri-La” | Medialoper

Album: Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of The British Empire)

“Shangri-La” is my favorite song on Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of The British Empire), and is probably one of my top 5 Kinks songs overall.

As the first song after you flip the record over after “Australia,” it always felt like also kind of a compare and contrast piece to that song as well. While the former is all about celebrating the endless possibilities of uprooting your life and moving to the other side of the world, the latter is a slowly burning satire of putting down roots in your very own uniquely-named home.

Both, of course, have their ups and downs: obviously Australia wasn’t necessarily the paradise that was pitched, and anyone who’s ever owned a home knows all of the pitfalls involved, even if they didn’t have nearly the entire back part of their house get flooded.

Of course, at first, “Shangri-La” starts quietly, with just Ray and an acoustic guitar:

Now that you’ve found your paradise
This is your kingdom to command
You can go outside and polish your car
Or sit by the fire in your Shangri-la

Here’s your reward for working so hard
Gone on the lavatories in the back yard
Gone all the days when you dreamed of that car
You just want to sit in your Shangri-la

Wow. Sounds wonderful. But of course, as the song adds instruments: harpsichord, bass, drums, horns and backing vocals, the scenario gets better and better.

Put on your slippers and sit by the fire
You’ve reached your top
And you just can’t get any higher
You’re in your place
And you know where you are
In your Shangri-la
Sit back in your old rocking chair
You need not worry, you need not care
You can’t go anywhere


When the whole band erupts into those triumphant, anthemic shouts of “Shangri-la” with the horns arcing ever skyward, it’s one of absolute moments of pure joy in all of Kinkdom. You want to stay there forever, toasting the endless pleasure of Shangri-la.

But, of course, we can’t. So in the very next verse, we’re now worrying about debts and mortgages, just to keep up the appearances of the happy castle. Which doesn’t make the second chorus any more wonderful than the first, even as Ray trails off into a “laaaaaaar” just before the song changes.

The picked guitar becomes heavily strummed guitar, the drums keep less of a straight beat, and the horns turn from celebratory to menacing, where over a riff copped from Cream’s “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” Ray Davies sings my very favorite Ray Davies couplet.

All the houses on the street have got a name
‘Cause all the houses in the street they look the same

If you lived in the burbs like I did as a teenager, you probably remember the weirdness of walking into a neighbor’s house and realizing that it was basically the same as your house, just with slightly different (and, of course, inferior) stuff.

Same chimney pots, same little cars
Same window panes
The neighbors call to tell you
Things that you should know
They say their lines, they drink their tea
And then they go
They tell your business in another Shangri-la
The gas bills and the water rates
And payments on the car
Too scared to think about how insecure you are
Life ain’t so happy in your little Shangri-la
Shangri-la la la la la la la la la

But, of course, you put that stuff away. You have to. You tell yourself that it’s a trade-off — all of that bad stuff — for the joys of home ownership, for being able to sit in your favorite chair in front the fire and sing “Shangri-la” at the top of your lungs for the rest of your life.

Recognizing its quality, but overestimating its popular appeal, The Kinks put “Shangri-la” out as a single, and it pretty much stiffed everywhere but the Netherlands, which makes sense, because despite its dynamism and anthemic qualities, it doesn’t feel like anything but a major album cut.


Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page


‘Unless you’re 100% sure your artist is wrong, go with their vision’ | Music Business Worldwide

There’s not a lot the top tier of the music business can throw at you that Jason Flom hasn’t dealt with.

Flom started in the record industry in 1979, aged 18, as a junior merchandiser at Atlantic Records – eventually working his way up to Chairman and CEO of the fabled label in 2003.

Along the way, he worked under the likes of Ahmet Ertegun and Doug Morris, while signing and developing acts including Kid Rock, Matchbox 20, The Corrs, Hayley Williams, Skid Row, Tori Amos, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Jewel, and Sugar Ray.

In 2006, he moved to EMI to become CEO and Chairman of Virgin Records, where he signed Katy Perry, before moving to head up Capitol Music Group (also then an EMI company) – where his roster included Coldplay, Lenny Kravitz, 30 Seconds to Mars, Corinne Bailey Rae, KT Tunstall, and Joss Stone.

In 1995, he founded Lava Records – initially a joint venture with Atlantic before Flom got the name back from Warner in 2009.

Since then, Lava has been working in partnership with Republic Records, signing and breaking artists including Jessie J and Lorde, who recently returned with Green Light – the lead single from her upcoming album Melodrama.

In early 2015, reports emerged that Lava’s deal with Republic was up for expiry – and that both sides were permitted to buy each other out.

MBW caught up with Flom for an exclusive interview ahead of his appearance at the MUSEXPO event at the W Hotel in Los Angeles on Sunday (April 28).

We asked him about his major label experiences, his approach to A&R, his relationship with the Republic team – and being fired by Lyor Cohen in an unusual manner back in 2005…

How has streaming changed the A&R process of A&R for you?

It’s hard to think of an industry the size of the music business which has been as dramatically disrupted as it has.

The good news is that all the doomsday people have been demonstrably proven incorrect; there were people eight or nine years ago who were saying the music industry was going out of business. Now we see a big resurgence, which is fantastic.

“Doug Morris taught so many of us to look for the signs – not just to use your ears but to use your brain and be a little scientific about this very unscientific business.”

Streaming is a very interesting tool for research. That’s an aspect of the business Doug Morris really pioneered many years ago; he taught so many of us to look for the signs – not just to use your ears, but to use your brain and be a little scientific about this very unscientific business.

Streaming provides you with very rich data, which is good and bad because it can be confusing.

There are some examples, like Justin Bieber, who develop a tremendous online following and then turn out to be global superstars. But then there’s others who have had tremendous success digitally and it hasn’t translated.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career and who did it come from?

Ahmet Ertegun – arguably for a long time the greatest record executive of them all – told me that unless you’re 100% sure the artist is wrong, go with their vision.

A great example of that is when I’d signed Kid Rock and was working Devil Without A Cause [1988]. The album had signed about 5m copies – Bawitdaba and Cowboy had been huge hits – and he wanted to put out a song called Only God Knows Why as the next single.

The Head of Promotions at [Atlantic] calls me and she has a group of program directors on the phone from one of the radio chains. They said: ‘We just want you to know, if you put out Only God Knows Why, you’re going to kill this guy’s career.’

I said, what do you mean? They said it’s a country song, it has no chorus and it’s out of tune.

“Ahmet Ertegun – arguably for a long time the greatest record executive of them all – told me that unless you’re 100% sure the artist is wrong, go with their vision.”

And I said, well, all of those things are true, but it doesn’t really matter – he’s told me on numerous occasions this is the most important song to him.

It became the biggest hit of them all, and we ended up selling another 6m records off the back of it.

Doug Morris taught me, amongst other things, to pay attention to what the customer wants. He said: ‘Whatever you’re opinion is, that’s fine. But if the public is telling you something – because they vote with their wallets – you have to respect that.’

He taught a lot of us that principle. Ultimately, Monte and Avery [Lipman] became the best at it.

They turned that principle into the biggest record company in the world.

Why do you enjoy working with Republic, to the point you’ve remained with them all this time?

Well, Monte [pictured] and I used to have a friendly rivalry. We competed for artists on several occasions. It seemed that every time I was breaking something, he and Avery was breaking something.

We’d talk several times a year and compared notes. But when I left Capitol, I thought: ‘These guys are great at breaking new artists, and I love breaking new artists. So let’s join forces.’

Republic is not a political place. I always say Monte and Avery can’t sleep at night because they don’t have all 200 of the Top 200.

“Republic has the best people – Charlie Walk, for example; the best in the business at what he does, unequivocally.”

They’re very competitive. But as much as this is an ego-driven business, they don’t have much of an ego about this stuff.

They’re interested in hits – they don’t care if I found it, you found it, or the f*cking cleaning lady found it. They just want their records on the charts.

The other thing is, they have the best staff. Just look at the people: Charlie Walk, for example – the best in the business at what he does, unequivocally.

How does your own ego deal with sharing A&R duties with the Republic team?

That’s always a tricky thing. But I lived that way when Lava was at Atlantic. At that time I had to generate all my own heat because, let’s just say, there were a lot of people there who weren’t on my side.

Every record company has its own priorities. But dealing with that is my job; when an artist signs with me they get to be on the biggest record label in the world, and all the leverage that goes with that.

“At Atlantic I had to generate all my own heat because, let’s just say, there were a lot of people there who weren’t on my side.”

But they also get me in there stirring the pot – running around people’s offices and getting them excited, and calling in favors from different places to add that special sauce.

There’s never a perfect situation; it’s not even perfect when you’re running a record company. I ran Virgin and Capitol and at the time it was a very tricky situation to navigate.

You worked under Guy Hands for a short time after he bought EMI.

I left soon after he took over. I didn’t want to be there.

It was an amicable split – they wanted me to stay. But they also wanted to change the structure of the company and that was not permitted under the terms of my deal, so it made perfect sense for me to leave.

“I didn’t understand Guy Hands’ vision. So it was thank you, good night.”

I didn’t understand Guy Hands’ vision. So it was thank you, good night.

But now [Capitol’s] part of Universal, it’s obviously made a huge difference.

A while ago, there were reports Lava was in a buy/sell situation with Republic – that either of you could take full control. How did that end up playing out?

We just decided to extend the deal, instead of doing any kind of transaction. I think the best is yet to come for Lava, and with the business rebounding I think it was a good decision for everyone.

When I sold Lava the first time to Atlantic, it was a good deal for everyone.

“Based on the information I have now, we’re going to have a very good run and I like being [at Republic].”

They sold a lot of records with the artists after the purchase that were part of the deal.

Based on the information I have now, we’re going to have a very good run and I like being [at Republic]. We’ll see what the future holds.

In your experience, what are the best things and the worst things about major record companies?

Major record companies are just great, there’s nothing bad about them – I’m kidding [laughs].

At the end of the day, record companies are made up of people. The name on the label doesn’t matter.

If you’re working with great people who have your best interests at heart and who have leverage to help the artist success to the highest level they can, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

“This won’t be shocking to anyone, but obviously a major label has to work with a certain a volume of product.”

This won’t be shocking to anyone, but obviously a major label has to work with a certain a volume of product. So you’re always going to have to compete with other artists for the priority slots.

That’s where good management comes into play. Proper management, most people would agree, is more important than ever today.

Labels are not magicians. People who are not in the business think labels can promote anything and make it a hit – that’s not true. Without great music, there’s nothing anyone can do.

Is it true that Lyor Cohen handed you a PR announcing your resignation from Atlantic in LAX airport in 2005?

That is absolutely true. It was a strange set of circumstances.

I was in Aspen on vacation with my family. I was on my way through LA to go back to work in New York.

Someone from Lyor’s office called me and told me he was coming to LA, so why don’t I meet him in the airport.

In retrospect, that sounded strange. But it’s like the mafia – you never see it coming.

“Someone in Lyor’s office told me he was coming to LA, so why don’t I meet him at the airport. In retrospect, that sounded strange. But it’s like the mafia – you never see it coming.”

I met him at the gate. We were walking down the corridor, and he showed me a bit of paper announcing my resignation. So I said: ‘I’m gonna go call my lawyer.’

It was really bizarre because I heard Lyor got on a plane right afterwards and flew back to New York.

He could have just called me into his office in New York, and saved himself flying across the country and back.

The whole thing is a surreal memory.

Was that typical of your working relationship with him and have you spoken since?

Yeah, we’ve spoken since. In fact, I got the Lava name back from him in a golf game – we’ve played golf together a few times.

It’s not personal; it’s business.

We didn’t have a great professional relationship and it didn’t work out. He’s done fine, I’ve done fine.

What is the key factor in making you want to sign an artist?

One of my heroes is David Geffen. David described it to me one time as instinct, and that’s perfect.

It just hits you and you think: ‘I get this.’

With Katy Perry it was when I met her. I just thought: ‘Oh my God, this girl’s a star.’ I’d never heard a note of music.

“With Katy Perry it was when I met her. I just thought: ‘Oh my God, this girl’s a star.'”

Or Hayley Williams. She was 15-years-old, sitting in my office playing acoustic and staring daggers through me.

I thought: ‘This girl’s going to be successful, and I need to get on this train.’

With Lorde, I actually heard Royals – finished. It was just in my inbox. That was a miracle. I heard it once and lost my mind.

Is it right you met some resistance at Virgin when you signed Katy Perry?

I was in charge, so I could do whatever I wanted – but the initial reaction I got after playing it for several of my top people was very negative.

They pretty much begged me not to sign her. They will remain nameless, but the fact is I was taken aback, and because of that I waited about a month before signing her.

“[People at Virgin] pretty much begged me not to sign Katy Perry. They will remain nameless, but the fact is I was taken aback…”

I remember that I was working out and and listening to her music, and I thought: ‘This girl is incredible, why am I listening to anybody else?’

I was worried she might have been scooped up by somebody else. But she’d already been dropped by two labels and luckily no-one else was moving very quickly in her direction.

You seem to avoid A&R conservatism with Lorde, despite the high stakes of her as an artist.

Well, Lorde does not pay attention to trends. She’s her own person – she does what she feels, at whatever time she feels like doing it.

Creatively and musically she’s the most independent-minded artist I can ever remember working with.

“Creatively and musically Lorde is the most independent-minded artist I can ever remember working with.”

She has her vision – no-one’s going to sway her from that. And you can’t argue with the results.

She is the Lorde – the Lorde of everything, that one. There never was a more appropriate name.

She may be from another planet. I’m really not sure.Music Business Worldwide


Kodi Counters Scaremongerers and Clarifies Its Stance on DRM | TorrentFreak

The Kodi media player software has seen a massive surge in popularity over the past two years.

With help from a wide range of third-party add-ons, some of which offer access to pirated content, millions of people now use Kodi as their main source of entertainment.

Earlier this month we interviewed the Kodi team to talk about their plans and piracy-related challenges. They were very upfront about these issues and happy to provide some counterbalance to often misleading news reports.

The Kodi team itself sees no value in actively banning third-party addons. Instead, they would like more legitimate content providers to join their platform. One of the things that could make this easier is by allowing Kodi to interface with DRM.

DRM-compatibility would make it possible for major movie studios and the likes of Netflix to stream their content in a protected environment, which is a minimal requirement for many.

However, the words “Kodi” and “DRM” in one sentence proved to be a rather volatile mix.

Soon after we posted our article, wild theories started to emerge, and social media, YouTube, and other news outlets started to spread inaccurate claims, with some predicting the end of Kodi.

This week the Kodi team decided to clarify their stance. Responding to the “ill-informed idiots on YouTube” and click-bait writers, the team makes it clear that DRM poses no threat to the media player software that people have come to love.

“Let’s try again and make this crystal clear: Kodi is a free, open-source neutral software. Kodi will never, ever require DRM to work, nor will it ever be a locked software. Ever! Read that a couple more times for good measure,” they write.

Since Kodi is open source, released under a GNU General Public License, the software itself can’t ship with DRM. However, there might be ways to set it up so it is compatible with DRM software that’s already on users’ systems or devices.

This will help to bring content providers on board and change the perception of Kodi as a piracy facilitator, the team says.

“From our perspective, supporting low-level DRM is a first step to changing that. Basically, what this means is providing some sort of interface to work with the DRM already present on your system.

“For example, Android ships with software that plays back DRMed content from Netflix. Kodi could hook into this already existing software in Android to playback the same content, so you never have to leave Kodi,” they add.

In other words, the only thing that Kodi is trying to do is help content providers to embrace the platform, not to hunt down or limit the availability of third party add-ons.

To the many news outlets who spread inaccuracies or falsehoods, the developers say they are always happy to answer their questions. In any case, readers are warned not to fall for wild claims, as they are often incorrect.

As for DRM, the Kodi team said its formal position can be summarized with the following four sentences.

– Kodi will never provide content, DRMed or not.
– Kodi will never stop working with your content.
– We will never prevent you from using Kodi as you so choose.
– We do not condone, condemn, encourage or recommend any particular use of Kodi.


Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.


If Vivendi sells a chunk of Universal Music Group… who’d buy it? | Music Business Worldwide

The MBW Review gives our take on some of the music biz’s biggest recent goings-on. This week, UMG parent Vivendi announced that the music company had been valued at as much as €20bn ($20bn). The MBW Review is supported by FUGA.

Big money is back in the music business.

Earlier this week, Vivendi announced to its assembled shareholders that it had spoken with investment banks who had valued Universal Music Group at an enormous €20bn ($22bn).

That’s a whopping 31-times multiple on Universal’s last annual EBITDA of €644m ($700m), which makes you think: why would someone ever be willing to part with such a gigantic sum to take control of the company?

According to Vivendi, that’s not on the cards: the valuation apparently came from banks encouraging Vincent Bollore and co. to float UMG on the stock market. (As if the music industry doesn’t have enough hopeful IPO attempts going on right now…)

However, other bankers are reportedly telling Vivendi to sell off 10-15% of Universal in order to realize a chunk of cash – which the French group could then use to fund acquisitions in other markets.

At a €20bn valuation, a 15% slice of UMG would set back a potential investor €3bn ($3.3bn) – funnily enough, the same price Len Blavatnik paid to buy the whole of Warner Music Group in 2011.

You have to question why Vivendi took the decision to plonk such a public pricetag on Universal, unless it was in the hope of stimulating some acquisitive interest in the major.

Who might be interested in splashing the cash on an acquisition or part-acquisition?

A few possible suitors are already swirling around in the rumor mill…

1) Asia’s Commercial giants

One name doing the rounds today is Alibaba, the world’s biggest e-commerce platform.

In FY 2016 (the 12 months to end of March last year) the China-born Amazon rival hosted $485bn in gross online transactions – while capturing $15.7bn of its own revenue.

Sources close to the company tell MBW that a large-scale music rights acquisition has been considered of strategic interest to the company for some time.

At the end of last year, we learned that the Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group – a smaller affiliate of Alibaba’s main business – planned to invest more than 50 billion yuan ($7.2 billion) in content over the next three years.

That’s some distance away from Vivendi’s favorable valuation of UMG – but comfortably enough to grab a 15% stake.

Worth mentioning that the Alibaba affiliate’s CEO, Yu Yongfu, said in a private email last year that, when it came to entertainment buyouts, he “didn’t come to play”.

The Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group already owns a music streaming service, Alibaba Music, in addition to other content-based subsidiaries such as Alibaba Literature and Alibaba Pictures.

There’s more money in the kitty, too: earlier this year, Alibaba Group confirmed that as of December 31, 2016, it was holding cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments worth US $19.95bn.

Another potential suitor from Asia is Tencent – China’s largest company, with a market cap in excess of $250bn.

Tencent occupies a unique position in the Chinese music market: the firm runs its own music platforms in the region, and is also the exclusive music licensing partner for Sony and Warner. It therefore gets to decide which services the majors’ catalogues end up on.

A sale of 10%-15% of Universal would be very appealing to Tencent.

We know so – as we’ve heard it straight from the horse’s mouth.

“We wouldn’t mind exploring an investment, like owning a small portion of a music label’s shares – 10, 20 or 30%.

Andy Ng, Tencent

Earlier this year, MBW asked Tencent’s VP of Music, Andy Ng, whether the company was interested in an all-out music rights acquisition.

“We’ve debated this internally many times over the last few years,” he said.

“In general, we have decided that Tencent is not interested in acquiring music labels outright… labels compete with each other and if one day Tencent bought one of the majors, the others would think we are a competitor.

However, he added: “We wouldn’t mind exploring an investment, like owning a small portion of a music label’s shares – 10%, 20% or 30%.

“We’d consider investing in a really important music label that could create different strategic partnerships with, not only for our music service, but also using the IP of artists in the games or filming business.”

With an artist roster ranging from The Rolling Stones to Katy Perry (pictured), Drake and Justin Bieber, music labels don’t come any more important than Universal.

2) A digital platform…

The prospect of Apple or Google buying their way into a major music company would surely cause pandemonium in the industry – as inevitable accusations of anti-competitive behavior began to fly.

Yet it’s not beyond the realm of possibility: last year, we learned that Google had, at one stage, made a speculative approach to buy 50% of Sony/ATV’s rights during a buy/sell phase between Sony Corp and the Jackson Estate.

Greenberg Traurig lawyer Joel Katz told the crowd at Midem: “It would have been a very interesting proposition, with [Google] having a major interest in a major publishing company like that… then negotiating their licenses with the record companies and saying: ‘Hey, we don’t have to license you!’

“Of course, it didn’t happen… Sony didn’t let it happen.”

“It would have been a very interesting proposition, with [Google] having a major interest in a major publishing company like [Sony/ATV].”

Joel Katz, Greenberg Traurig

It seems unlikely that Universal would grant Google any more leeway to own a portion of its business; especially as the European Commission is currently readying its ultimate decision over the future of EU safe harbor laws – which have artists and rights-holders alike up in arms.

A deal with Apple, meanwhile, risks driving the loyalty of UMG’s rival rights-holders away from Apple Music and into the arms of its rivals.

Ultimately, however, all of the major labels need Apple to thrive for the record business’s recovery to continue – and the Cupertino giant does seem keen on paddling its way into rights ownership.

After Apple revealed that it had a cash position in excess of $200bn+ in February, CEO Tim Cook told investors: “[We] are always looking at acquisitions. We acquired 15 to 20 companies per year for the last four years.”

He was then asked if Apple would be keen to acquire entertainment copyrights.

“In terms of original content, we have put our toe in the water with doing some original content for Apple Music, and that will be rolling out through the year,” replied Cook, adding “we’re learning a lot about the original content business and thinking about ways that we could play at it”.

Grabbing hold of a chunk of a company like Universal – with its 35%+ global market share in recorded music – wouldn’t be a bad aid to that mission.

3) Financiers, rivals and telcos?

Consider the anti-monopolistic strife Universal faced from the European Commission when acquiring EMI Music in 2012: could Sony Music Entertainment or Warner Music Group really get away with buying into recorded music’s market leader?

There is an argument that, for businesses like these, Universal’s colossal price-tag might make more strategic sense than for outsiders – with mutual cost-savings to be enjoyed.

Universal and Sony, for example, already have co-ownership of the Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation brand – which is structurally awkward, but financially rewarding for both parties.

Yet it’s difficult to see a scenario whereby Sony or Access Industries could snap up a minority stake in UMG without alerting competition regulators.

That’s not to say, though, that figures well-known to the music business couldn’t become involved in buying a slice of Universal.

When rumors began to fly that Sony Corp might offload its music division earlier this year, one of the names bandied around as a potential buyer was Accretive LLC – run by former Warner chief Edgar Bronfman Jr (pictured).

Bronfman Jr recently showed his appetite for content acquisitions by teaming up with Blavatnik and Warner board member Ynon Kreiz in bidding for Time Inc (owner of Time, People and Sports Illustrated). The attempt eventually fell flat due to a reported ‘valuation gap’.

(Bit of trivia: once upon a time, Bronfman slated Universal’s buyout of EMI Music as a ‘terrible deal’ for the music business – having missed out on closing the acquisition himself.)

The big question mark for private equity groups without an obvious strategic interest in buying into UMG is simply one of return.

Even at the lower end of reported current bank valuations for Universal (€13bn, or $14.1bn), the company’s 2016 EBITDA (and its 12.2% margin) suggests an investor could be waiting decades to make their money back.

That won’t be appealing to venture capitalists wanting to make a quick buck.

Yet for the right partner – with the right strategic reasoning for grabbing a stake and a bullish view on future streaming growth – Universal could still provide a very tempting opportunity.

It’s not as if there isn’t eye-watering money out there in the content acquisition space, either – especially in the world of telcos and ISPs.

Don’t forget that Viacom last year agreed to pay $85bn for Time Warner – effectively a play by an internet provider to take charge of the sort of movies and TV shows that keep people glued to their sofas.

However, at $29.3bn, Time Warner’s 2016 revenues were roughly five times larger than those of Universal Music Group.

A fifth of $85bn works out at $17bn – suggesting that, even if a generous bidder comes to the table for a part-sale deal, Vivendi may struggle to bring UMG’s headline-grabbing new valuation to life.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 13.35.51The MBW Review is supported by FUGA, the high-end technology partner for content owners and distributors. FUGA is the number one choice for some of the largest labels, management companies and distributors worldwide. With a broad array of services, its adaptable and flexible platform has been built, in conjunction with leading music partners, to provide seamless integration and meet rapidly evolving industry requirements. Learn more at www.fuga.comMusic Business Worldwide


Apple Music To Relaunch With More Video, Original Programming [REPORT] | hypebot

Apple-logoWhen Apple introduces the next version of its iOS later this year, it will reportedly include an new Apple Music app designed to emphasize video. Recent announcements of several Apple exclusive video series would seem to confirm the shift.


image from

Apple Music honcho Jimmy Iovine is making deals to bring much more video to the service. That new emphasis on video will reportedly be the cornerstone of a revamped music app when Apple introduces the next version of its iOS operating software later this year.

Iovine all but confirmed Apple Music's video ambitions in an interview with Bloomberg: “A music service needs to be more than a bunch of songs and a few playlists. I’m trying to help Apple Music be an overall movement in popular culture, everything from unsigned bands to video. We have a lot of plans.” 

Several of the shows have been announced that provide a hint at just how music-centered Iovine's video plans are including exclusives on documentaries about Cash Money Records, Bad Boy Records and Clive Davis, plius original shows like “Planet of the Apps,” the recently delayed “Carpool Karaoke” and "Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” from Live Nation and Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Related articles

Industry Navigation Tips For Songwriters | hypebot

1The music industry is full of talented and creative songwriters, which can often foster a negative competitive environment, but rather than fall into this trap, it would behoove any songwriter to use the many likeminded artists in their field to their advantage. Here we look at how.


Guest post by Skela of TuneCore

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by TuneCore Artist Skela. Enjoy her tips to better network, collaborate, and engage was an independent songwriter in the music industry!]

You have to work very, very hard for a just a little bit of luck in the music industry. There are so many beautifully talented artists in this world, and it’s so easy to become overwhelmed by the idea of being one small fish in what feels like many oceans. Instead of being intimidated or striking up ugly green competition with your counterparts, use the multitude of likeminded artists around you to your advantage.

Songwriters are special creatures. We are spectators, empathetic beings, and constantly translating emotion onto paper. You may not know it yet, but one of your greatest strengths can be the ability to connect with others.

So do it.

Interact with the musicians around you. You may have written your best song alone in your bedroom, but it’s about more than that. Creating a long lasting career takes a village – or, people who support one another. Here are a few navigation tips I wish I knew in the beginning of my career:

1. There is no way of knowing who is going to be plucked from the bucket next.

3_FW-141_AMDon’t cling to the cool kids. Don’t pursue people that you think are going to be the next big thing. Find the artists whose work you admire and connect with them. If you vibe with someone’s music, there’s a good chance you’re going to work well with them. Find your people, not your posse.

2. Go to your friends’ performances.

This seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many people don’t show up and support their music making peers. It’s important to show face because there is going to come a time where you need heads in a room and the favor returned. Also, buying tickets to concerts is what makes the industry go round. Most importantly, seeing someone in their element live is inspiring and always an opportunity to learn something new!

3. Never, ever stop writing.

If you’re going to be “something” in this world, then be the best damn “something” there is. If you’re going to call yourself a songwriter, then make sure you have an arsenal of material ready to work at any given time. You never know what session you might be asked to hop in on. Make sure you have it together so you don’t miss any opportunities to work with people.

4. Don’t burn bridges.

2Again, you never know who is going to make it next in this industry. There is no foreseeable timeline attached to musicians so don’t write them off just because they’re not growing parallel to you. There’s a way to speak to people and a way to end relationships amicably. Lead a relationship by good example and leave the future open not barbed with past fallouts.

5. Speak up!

Just because you’re not a producer doesn’t mean that you should sit next to a producer in the studio silent. No one knows the sound you’re after better than you do. You might not know the technical aspect of how to create the palette and structure of a song, but you should know what it takes and be able to find the appropriate references and language in order to properly articulate your vision.

I know that working with producers can be intimidating. When I first started working with producers, I was just so grateful to be working with anyone at all that I nodded my head in agreement to almost everything. If you know what you want, don’t be afraid to speak up. The sooner the better, trust me.

6. When you know, you know.

Don’t force relationships. They should come naturally. It’s impossible to have a strong connection with every musician you meet. Take the session, try it out, and if it doesn’t work, both parties are going to feel something is off. Maximize your time by listening to your instincts when it comes to producers, songwriters and instrumentalists.

7. There is no such thing as an overnight success.

It is so easy to be jealous of others who are finding success in the music industry, but know that the people who are excelling probably worked extremely hard for their bite. It doesn’t come easy or without struggle. If one of your friends is finding success, it means that you’re surrounded by the right people. It’s a good thing when another musician starts to make traction. Your time will come because there is no expiration date if you don’t give up.

Related articles