Opinion and analysis of the day's music news.
TERRA FIRMA COULD LOSE EMI BY CHRISTMAS
-- Reports out of the U.K. claim Terra Firma could lose EMI by Christmas. The paper said Terra Firma chief Guy Hands has told investors to expect the worst after the private equity firm lost its lawsuit against Citigroup last month. City A.M. offers these details on how Citigroup would take control:
"Citi is expected to write off most of EMI's debts in exchange for control of the company, which counts Coldplay, Lilly Allen and Kylie among the acts on its label. Under the proposals put forward by Citi, Terra Firma would keep a small stake in EMI but would lose operational control, leaving the bank able to conduct a quick asset sale in the new year."
In a November e-mail to company staffers , EMI Group head Roger Faxon dismissed just such a scenario. "I don't know if you've looked at any of our competitors recently, but none of them are having a particularly easy time of it," he wrote. "As a result, their corporate structures absolutely are not geared up right now to stomach the financial demands of attempting to take over another big company."
But nobody should dismiss the scenarios being described by the press. To continue to control EMI, Terra Firma will most likely have to invest more money to meet debt covenants. If pouring in additional equity was unpopular in the past, it has become downright unpalatable. The lawsuit against Citigroup has been widely seen as a last ditch effort by Terra Firma to reduce the amount of its debt carried by Citigroup. The lawsuit resulted in neither a settlement nor a jury verdict that would have eased Terra Firma's debt burden.
What exactly will happen to EMI is still unknown, but something will come to pass. The safe bet is that 2011 will simply be a transformative year for the storied music company. (Bloomberg , City A.M. )
FORMER WARNER MUSIC INTERNATIONAL CHAIRMAN BACKING MY MAJOR COMPANY
-- Paul Rene-Albertini, former chairman and CEO of Warner Music International, is backing the U.K. launch of My Major Company , a new type of record label that seeks fan funding for projects (which basically asks small investors to assume the risk usually taken on by larger investors). MMC signs and promotes acts in order to attract the 100,000 pounds ($159,000) needed to start recording. Investors can put in from 10 pounds to 1,000 pounds. When net proceeds for U.K. projects are below 250,000 pounds ($396,000), investors get a 40% share of the proceeds. But investors get a lower share as a project becomes more successful. After net proceeds exceed 750,000 pounds ($1.19 million), investors receive only a 10% share.
While MMC is a new type of company in terms of financing projects, it appears to be very traditional in the sense that investors fund recorded music and recoup their investment mainly through the monetization of the master recordings. Each project will include typical promotion costs, video production expenses and tour support.
A truly modern label would look beyond recorded music. The MMC website mentions 360-degree rights but does not spell out specially what rights will be monetized. The terms and conditions mentions revenue from live performances, but it clearly takes a back seat to recorded music revenue in MMC's plans. There is no specific mention of sponsorship, licensing or merchandise revenue. MMC's website does indicate that publishing rights are not part of the deal. (The Independent )
AEG FUNDING LEGAL ACTION AGAINST DALLAS VENUE
-- The Dallas Morning News reports that AEG if funding legal action against the city of Irving's plan to finance a $250 million entertainment complex. One of Irving's partners in the project is Live Nation. Not coincidentally, the planned complex would have a 5,200-seat concert hall that would compete with AEG's Verizon Theater in nearby Grand Prairie. (Dallas Morning News )
40% OF NPR TRAFFIC COMES FROM MOBILE PLATFORMS
-- Forty percent of NPR's traffic can be traced back to mobile platforms. That's good for labels and artists to know. NPR is a major tastemaker in the music world. An artist appears on NPR and online sales tend to jump immediately. ( Press release )
SEATWAVE SELLS 1 MILLIONTH TICKET
-- Secondary ticketing site Seatwave has sold its 1 millionth ticket. The U.K.-based company announced $25 million in funding in early 2008 and another $17 million in funding in mid-2009. The company's investors include Accel Partners (which has invested in Facebook, Admob, Brightcove, Etsy, Groupon and StumbleUpon), Atlas Venture (Dailymotion, Songbird), Mangrove Capital Partners, Fidelity Ventures and Adinvest. (MusicWeek )
NASHVILLE CITY COUNCILMAN FUNDING NEW VENUE BILL
-- The Nashville city councilman is sponsoring a bill that would allow for a 5,000-seat venue to be built on the site of the defunct, 17,000-capacity Starwood Amphitheatre. The property's owner has not yet received any offers. (Nashville City Paper )