Universal and Sony buy EMI; nothing really changes!

Universal and Sony buy EMI; nothing really changes! http://www.tinymixtapes.com/sites/default/files/news-11-11-emi-universal-sony.jpg

The EMI roulette wheel has stopped spinning and Universal Music Group (UMG) and Sony are the lucky winners! In a surprise turn of events, Citigroup (the current owner of EMI) announced that UMG will purchase its recorded music division for $1.9 billion, while Sony (leading a larger consortium of investors) will acquire EMI’s publishing rights for $2.2 billion. Prior to the announcement, it was believed that Russian billionaire-helmed Warner Music Group would score the recorded music division, while a partnership between private-equity firm KKR and German media group Bertelsmann AG would nab the publishing rights.

The announcement was also surprising because no one expected Citigroup to get what they were asking for EMI. The final figures came to be after Citigroup agreed to keep EMI’s pension liabilities on their books instead of passing them along to the new owners. The pension liabilities have been estimated at upwards of $600 million. UMG has also announced that they will be selling off over $600 million in “noncore” assets, most likely a small handful of catalogs, to raise more capital for the deal and reduce the amount of assets it currently holds.

Even with the upcoming sale, UMG’s purchase of EMI’s catalog will bring their market share of distributed music up to about 36% in some countries. This has lead to speculation that the deal could prove difficult to finalize, due to anti-trust issues. UMG seems confident in the face of these concerns, though, announcing that they’ll take on the liability. If the deal ultimately fails to go through, UMG would be responsible for finding a new buyer and would have to eat any costs incurred as a result.

A few notable EMI artists and managers have submitted sound bites supporting the deal, including Mick Jagger who noted that the sale to UMG was a “positive development.” There had been growing concern among some industry types about the eventual owner of EMI, as the company had up until recently been a British mainstay of the music world, having been in business for 114 years. The purchase of the company by similarly large music groups should maintain the status quo, even if ownership has switched from British to French hands via UMG’s parent company, Vivendi.

• EMI: http://www.emimusic.com
• Universal Music Group: http://www.universalmusic.com

RIP: Michael Garrick, jazz pianist and composer

From The Wire:

British pianist and composer Michael Garrick died on 11 November 2011, after being admitted to hospital with heart problems last week. Garrick was born in Enfield on 30 May 1933, and formed his first quartet whilst studying at UCL. He was awarded an MBE in 2010.

• Michael Garrick: http://www.michaelgarrick.co.uk

Rivers Cuomo announces The Pinkerton Diaries and Alone III. Finally, some insight into his personal life!

Weezer’s 1996 record Pinkerton is known primarily for how mysterious frontman Rivers Cuomo came off on it. Instead of the soul baring of “Undone (The Sweater Song)” from the group’s self-titled debut, Cuomo offered up simple songs about oceans, butterflies, and the wrestler New Jack. For years, fans have been wanting to know even the slightest details about the singer’s frame of mind during the album’s creation. Legend has it that Cuomo had all his memories surgically removed and locked in a vault miles beneath Tokyo. “The rumors about me storing my memories of the period from 1994 to 1997 in a vault miles beneath Tokyo are certainly untrue,” said Cuomo. “But what if if they aren’t?”

Vault or no vault, NME reports that Cuomo’s memories of the period will be on sale through The Pinkerton Diaries, a 237-page book due out December 12. The book documents Cuomo’s life from the release of Weezer’s debut on May 10, 1994 to 1997, through a collection of the singer’s journal entries, emails, letters, school papers, and photos. In addition to all the personal Rivers Cuomo information, the book includes actual information about the Pinkerton album in the form of compositions, notebooks of lyrics, and studio notes. Including unused scats from “El Scorcho”! That doesn’t exist.

The Pinkerton Diaries also comes with Alone III, Cuomo’s third collection of home recordings. This time around, the collection is particularly Pinkerton-themed. Many of the collection’s tracks are Pinkerton demos and recordings from Weezer’s unfinished second record Songs from the Black Hole. Then there are songs that aren’t demos or from unfinished alternative universe albums. Those songs are just regular, never-before-heard songs. Likely, they are all about a frustrated Japanese butterfly who has never heard Green Day.

Alone III tracklist:

01. I’m So Lonely
02. Getchoo
03. Lisa
04. Negativland
05. You Gave Your Love to Me Softly
06. When You’re Alone
07. Susanne
08. There Is No Other One
09. Let Me Wash at Your Sink
10. Waiting on You
11. Oh No, This Is Not for Me
12. Tired of Sex
13. She’s Had a Girl
14. What Is This I Find?
15. Now I Finally See
16. Longtime Sunshine
17. I’m Lonely on a Saturday Night
18. Oh God I’m Hungry
19. I’m on Fire, You’re a Liar
20. The End of My String
21. I Can’t Break Your Heart Slow
22. Money Makes Me Happy
23. My Mind’s on You
24. Defeat on the Hill
25. Clarinet Waltz
26. A Glorious Moment

• Rivers Cuomo: http://riverscuomo.cinderblock.com

R. Kelly tells y’all to “shut up and ride my soula coaster!”

If there’s one thing that’s bound to break my self-imposed exile so I could play the new Elder Scrolls game, it’s news about R. Kelly. No really, whether he realizes it or not, the man is somewhat of an accidental genius. Who else besides R. Kelly would devote the time and effort required to produce a 22-chapter mini-drama based off of the ludicrous epic Trapped in the Closet (a series that is still to be continued…)? Who else but R. Kelly would dare call their co-penned autobiography Soula Coaster: The Diary of Me? And who else but R. Kelly would make a comeback from a brief hiatus due to emergency throat surgery and instantly pen a song addressing all of his “haters” (as if he’s relevant enough to have haters anymore)?

The hilariously informal “Shut Up” hit the internet last night, a song in which R. Kelly runs through a list of grievances directed toward all the haters out there who think R. Kelly is nothing but a washed up artist (how could he be? He still isn’t finished with the Trapped in the Closet saga). There’s plenty of that classic R. Kelly delivery in the song, such as in the way he just blurts out “Well let’s get right to it/ People saying I’m washed up” and the way he soulfully croons “In my hospital bed/ Crying mad tears/ Woo woo”. The chorus is undoubtedly the best part of the entire song, when R. Kelly’s entire argument against his haters boils down to “Tell ‘em shut up/ Tell ‘em shut up/ Tell ‘em shut up, shut up” (Incineration! You are the insult master!)

Also, the R. Kelly autobiography is due to be out Spring 2012. I guess the apocalypse is just gonna have to wait.

• R. Kelly: http://www.r-kelly.com

The Cure treating all their lovecats to a new live album straight outta Bestival

Close your eyes. Breathe in the salt air. Hear the seagulls screaming their murderous, terrifying cries to the sea. You’re on England’s Isle of Wight. Now, listen closer. Do you hear that wailing guitar, that anguished howl rising from all the stores who have exhausted their black eyeliner supplies? Could it be? YES. You’re not just on the Isle of Wight… YOU’RE ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT DURING BESTIVAL 2011, LISTENING TO THE CURE PLAY. OMG! (Oh My Goth!)

At least that’s how you’ll feel once you pop this brand new double live album into your CD player/Mp3 listening device! The Cure: Bestival Live 2011 hits US shores on December 6, the magical date when you’ll be able to take in 32 live Cure classics like “The Lovecats” and “Boys Don’t Cry.” And so much more! Bestival festival founder/Sunday Best record label founder/BBC DJ Rob da Bank will release the album on his own Sunday Best label and the Cure superfan had this to say:

Since I was 15 and backcombing my hair, donning my sisters eyeliner and singing the lyrics to “A Forest” into my hairbrush I’ve had an unhealthy fascination with The Cure. To say it reached its peak at Bestival 2011 is an understatement, as after seven years of pestering I not only landed The Cure to headline Bestival, but now appear to be putting out one of their live records on my own record label. How strange! For any of the 50,000 who were at Bestival and saw all or some of the two and a half hour set, this live album will transport you back. For fans of The Cure who didn’t make it I know this will be a legendary addition to your Cure collection!

Proceeds from album sales will go to the Isle of Wight Youth Trust, a charitable organization that provides counseling and support service to island residents under twenty-five. Charity Director Eileen Monks said:

What wonderful news that The Cure should choose us, an Island charity of 27 years, to benefit in this way. This came completely out of the blue and at a time when it is becoming extra hard to raise funds to support our work with children and young people on the Island, further cementing our association with young people in their many interests and aspects of their lives. We would like to thank Rob da Bank for his continuing support.

So many quotes! So many Cure jams! So many nice, fuzzy feelings! Crank that double album baby up and let the seagulls scream along.

Remaining tourdates:

11.15.11 - London, UK - Royal Albert Hall
11.21-23.11 - Hollywood, CA - Pantages Theater
11.25-27.11 - New York, NY - Beacon Theatre

• The Cure: http://www.thecure.com
• Sunday Best: http://www.sundaybest.net

Sublime Frequencies collaborator starts new label; plans to conquer the world (through music) nearly complete

If you’re familiar with the internationally-focused Seattle-based record label Sublime Frequencies, then chances are you’ve probably questioned on more than one occasion the practicality of owning a passport. Their catalog is a veritable smorgasbord of artists from regions of the world most of us will likely never have the opportunity to visit (due to unreliable means of transportation or other factors), and some of which we possibly haven’t even heard of. Another case of developed-world elitism? I think not: “Ethnic Minority Music” from North Vietnam and Cambodia? Tuareg music from the Agadez Region of Niger? Ornamental sounds from the Lhasa region of Tibet? How many other labels are constantly releasing music from these sporadically-frequented areas?

At least one more, according to The Wire. Adding to his work as a long-time contributor and collaborator with Sublime Frequencies, Mark Gergis has started his own label, Sham Palace. When asked about his motivations, Gergis had this to say on the subject: “I’ve started the label in order to be able to share more of this mountain of sounds and images I’ve been accumulating from around the world for almost two decades.” So essentially, Gergis needed a second, entirely new label of his own from which to release all of the obscure musical artifacts he’s uncovered and is uncovering from the Middle East and Southeast Asia. That’s fair enough. It’s like needing an extra hard drive.

Sham Palace’s first release will come on November 22, when Syrian musician Omar Souleyman will release the double-LP Leh Jani.

• Sublime Frequencies: http://www.sublimefrequencies.com
• Omar Souleyman: http://omarsouleyman.virb.com

[Photo: Dave Franklin]