EMI'S DEDICATION TO A&R
-- After Roger Faxon was named head of EMI Music, some people in the business press were under the impression that EMI would become either more committed to publishing or less committed to new artist development. Not so, says EMI. It turns out there was more to the story – an internal memo that contained much more detailed information than the press release.

The Economist offered a rough translation of Friday’s news: “Owning and exploiting the copyright to songs, rather than selling recordings of songs, is where the money’s going to be from now on.” At Bizmology, the blog of editors at Hoover’s, the belief was that EMI’s new organization structure “implies a lighter commitment to breaking new artists in favor of relying more heavily on selling publishing rights to its enormous back catalog.”

Similarly, Forrester analyst Mark Mulligan wondered where the commitment to artist development was in the news of EMI’s restructuring. “[O]ne thing that this positioning does not focus on is the crucial role of record labels and publishers as nurturers of talent… EMI still has many of those great people who can create that environment. But the question is whether this was just an oversight in the press announcement or whether this repositioning means that they will find their contributions increasingly marginalized in favour of more cautious and short-term asset exploitation strategies?”

Many other commentators, however, noted EMI’s continued belief in signing and developing new artists. And they did not question EMI’s commitment to recorded music. Why the difference in opinions? One explanation is that those who had access to Faxon’s internal memo were privy to EMI’s continued devotion to A&R. Those who simply read the press release and early press reports appear to have come to very different conclusions. (The Economist, Bizmology, Mark Mulligan)


Q4 GIVES BOOST TO PRIVATE EQUITY, VC FUNDS
-- The fourth quarter of 2009 was one of the best in years for private equity and venture capital funds, according to Cambridge Associates. Private equity returned 5.9% during the fourth quarter – equal to public markets – while venture capital returned 3.3%. For the 2009 calendar year, private equity returned 13.8% and venture capital returned just 3.0%.

Exit conditions for venture funds remain challenging, says Cambridge, but high growth companies will be able to find capital. “Fundraising levels have also dropped and continued tempered capital commitments to the asset class will prevent excess capital from reentering the industry and will help to boost future industry performance,” Cambridge said of venture funds.


E-READER PRICE WARS
-- E-readers are in a price war and Apple must be loving it. Barnes & Noble has dropped the price of its Nook to $199 ($149 for Wifi-only version) while Amazon.com lowered the price of its Kindle to $189 from the original $259. Meanwhile, Borders has sold out of the first run of its Kobo e-reader. Analysts predict a race to the bottom for e-readers – after all, they are quite limited in functionality. All this price competition has ceded the high end to the iPad, which sells for far more than an e-reader but offers far more functions. (CNNMoney.com)


TUNECORE TURNAROUND
-- Digital distributor TuneCore says “most” artists’ albums, singles and ringtones go live on iTunes less than 24 hours after being uploaded to TuneCore. “When we launched five years ago it took six to eight weeks for releases to go live,” the company says at its blog. (TuneCorner)


Assorted Links
-- Will Lawrence Lessig’s organizations return funds from a self-confessed felon who made a fortune in online gambling? (The Register)

-- The lawyer for convicted file sharer Jammie Thomas-Rasset is not optimistic on mediation. (CNET)