Music News Review – 27/01/12

IMPALA oppose the purchase of EMI by Universal

IMPALA, the Independent Music Companies Association is in strong opposition of the move by Universal Music for their proposed £1.2billion takeover of one of the music giants, EMI’s recorded music division. As reported by City A.M, IMPALA, who has over 4000 members across Europe in its trade body, are concerned that Universal’s bid for EMI would disregard competition interests.

In a statement published on IMPALA’s website on 26th January, Helen Smith (Executive Chair) said “Neither the USA nor Europe wants to see the music sector become a two-horse race, devoid of competition from any other companies.” As reported by CMU, if EMI are to be taken over by Universal, the sheer size of both Universal/EMI and Sony will overpower that of Warner and will effectively leave just two major labels as the big players in the industry.

The statement also brings to light the fact that independent artists contribute to only 6% of the Top 100 for both airplay and downloads across Europe, despite accounting for 80% of all new releases. Universal, EMI and Sony would also account for 76% of the Top 200, according to a new report by EMO and Eurosonic/Nooderslag. IMPALA also stated that in 2011 an astonishing 94% of airplay and 95% of the top 100 downloads in Europe were releases by the major labels, with Universal and Sony the leaders of the competition by a long way.

If the deal goes ahead, it will mean that artists such as The Beatles, Coldplay and Kylie Minogue, as well as the label’s subsidiaries including Parlophone and Virgin, will be under Universal’s control.


Napster relaunch in the UK and Europe set to battle Spotify?

Napster has been reborn from its original illegal file-sharing service status into a legal streaming service, with its recent relaunch in Europe and the UK.  According to the Telegraph, US digital music service Rhapsody, who bought the US version of Napster in 2011, decided to fold the service into their own operations in the US.  However, they announced yesterday that they have now acquired Napster’s international operations, keeping the service’s original name for rebranding in UK and Europe and kicking off a battle with Spotify in its first venture away from the US.

As reported by Digital Spy, Rhapsody president Jon Irwin commented “Consumer demand for subscription music has never been greater, and our partners are eager to bring music to the masses in new and creative ways. There is a lot of room for growth in this market and I firmly believe that 2012 is going to be our biggest year yet.”

Napster will offer two services to their customers – unlimited music streaming with access to over 15 million tracks on a home computer for a monthly fee of £5, and a mobile device option for £10.

Yesterday also marked the launch of Pure Music, another competitor, which will allow its users to stream over 15 million songs each month for £4.99. The new cloud-based music service has secured deals with all of the major labels.


The SOPA war continues…

According to Tech Crunch, an alliance of Pirate Party organisations are planning to sue the FBI in retaliation of recent events. Their argument is that the abrupt take-down of MegaUpload caused huge damages, both personally and economically, to many lawful users of the site. MegaUpload’s attorney Ira Rothken commented that the move was “offensive to the rights of Megaupload but also to the rights of millions of consumers worldwide”, as reported by ARS Technica. As well as this, hacker collective Anonymous announced a Facebook shutdown to take place on 28th January in a video uploaded to YouTube. They have since then claimed that the video is fake.

The shutdown of MegaUpload has prompted other websites using file-sharing to do the same voluntarily, according to RT.

There has also been speculation that the announcement of MegaBox is the reason behind why FBI, DOJ and MPAA, all US-based agencies, called a halt to the overseas website so abruptly. As reported by Digital Music News, MegaBox was a platform at beta-stage for emerging independent artists offering a combination locker and a download store.  Offering artists to keep 90% of their earnings as well as paying them for free downloads, they posed as a huge threat to record labels. According to Tech Crunch, MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom described MegaBox as a competitor to iTunes, and the service was due to be available to the public this year. Dotcom had also announced plans of launching a new site as a platform to offer free premium movies under the title Megamovie, which meant that MegaUpload would evolve from just a digital locker site to a digital content player.


Have you got the Decks Factor?

In other news, Simon Cowell has announced plans of a new talent contest to “find the world’s greatest DJ”. According to Music Week, the yet unnamed show has been in development for over a year with a format already penned down, and will be co-produced  by Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and Will and Jada Pinkett Smiths’ production company, Overbrook, in partnership with Sony Pictures Television. Cowell tweeted on Wednesday:




Mixmag have hinted at the suggestion of the show being named “Decks Factor” – will this be a successful new venture, or a record flop? Let us know your thoughts.



This post was written by Zimbalam blogger, Hinako Omori

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