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The entire Warner Music Group including Warner/Chappell Music Publishing is being bought from AOL Time Warner by a syndicate headed by Edgar Bronfman Jr, for $2.6 billion. The deal puts an end to UK major's EMI's hopes to buy WMG.
Sony and BMG have announced plans to merge their record divisions in a 50:50 joint venture named Sony BMG, subject to approval by US and EC officials. BMG chairman/CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holtz would become chairman, with Sony CEO Andrew Lack as CEO. The proposed deal excludes both companies; music publishing, distribution and manufacturing divisions.
Dreamworks SKG has struck a deal to sell its music division to Universal Music Group for an estimated $100m, as of January 1st. Dreamworks, whose artists include Nelly Furtado, Floetry and the late Elliott Smith, will be folded into Universal's Interscope label, with former Epic president Polly Anthony likely to be named as president reporting to Jimmy Iovine. The deal excludes DreamWorks Nashville which will remain as a stand-alone unit headed by James Stroud. Meanwhile reports suggest DreamWorks may sell its publishing division to Cherry Lane Music.
Brian Rawling's Metrophonic Music has signed a worldwide admin deal with Universal Music Publishing, four months after ending its co-publishing venture with Ministry of Sound, whose publishing division it now owns. The combined operation provides Metrophonic with 17,000 copyrights, while current or upcoming cuts include songs/productions by Enrique Iglesias, Ronan Keating, Lionel Richie, Holly Valance, Lemar, Britney Spears and Charlotte Church.
Mike Pickering of M People has been appointed as A&R consultant to BMG Records, while A&R manager Nick Hanson has left the company.
Ministry of Sound has launched new label Open, headed led by A&R director Ben Cook and A&R manager Ric Salmon. Already signed are singer/songwriter Cassandra Fox, Bent and French outfit Aloud. The focus on artist development follows cutbacks in MoS's previous joint venture activities such as Relentless and 13 Amp.
Justin Timberlake won three MTV Europe Music Awards in Edinbugh, for best male singer, best pop and best album. Other winners included Beyonce (best R&B & best song Crazy In Love); host Christina Aguilera (best female); Coldplay (best group); White Stripes (rock act); Eminem (hip-hop), Sigur Ros (best video) and Sean Paul (new artist).
Upcoming Christmas cover versions of classic hits include Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by the Pop Idol 2 finalists (S/BMG); Mandy by Westlife (BMG); Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours by Blue feat. Stevie Wonder & Angie Stone (Innocent); Ladies Night by Atomic Kitten (Innocent); Jump by Girls Aloud (Polydor); It Ain't What You Do by Big Brovaz (Epic); You Make Me Feel Brand New by Simply Red (simplyred.com); and All I Wanna Do by Amy Studt (Polydor). Two movie-related curios are also being hotly-tipped: the atmospheric ballad version, from Donnie Darko, of Tears For Fears; Mad World by Michael Andrews. Gary Jules (Adventures In Music); and Love Actually actor Bill Nighy's demolition of Christmas Is All Around (Island).
Conductor Sir Andrew Davis will present the first British Composer Awards, hosted by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters at London's Barbican Hall on December 18th.
The Music Publishers Association presented its first Music in Advertising Awards at the Radisson Hotel in Glasgow, during the Music Works conference. Universal Music Publishing won the Pop category with the Velvet Underground track I'm Stickin' With You featured in an Hyundai campaign (agency: Leagas Delaney); Levis' won the classical category for its use of Handel's Sarabande (Bartle Bogle Hegarty); and composer Peter Lawlor's atmospheric Ice Night for Orange won the specially commissioned category (Lowe & Partners). A further Brand Award was picked up by Nike for the most innovative use of music in its advertisements in 2002-2003.
Former Warner Chappell Music France director of creative, Christophe Piot has set up Alter Ego Music. First signing is the worldwide representation of David Guetta (recent No. 1 in UK dance charts). Alter Ego is looking for acquiring catalogues and administration deals for France. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abba's songwriters and founders Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Anderson received the lifetime achievement award at the first Swedish Music Publishers Awards held in Stockholm on October 27, while Jocke Berg was named lyricist/composr of the year.
Blues legend BB King and Hungarian-born composer Gyorgy Ligeti Citation have been named as joint winners of this year's annual Polar Music Prize in Stockholm.
Rondor Music GM/creative head Barbara VanderLinde is leaving the Universal-owned company after 11 years... Pete Ganberg has left Epic Records (NY)... Jade McQueen has joined Interscope A&R (NY)... Cliff Audretch has left Sony Music Nashville... Lee Chesnut, Dino Delvaille and Tabari Sturdivant all exit Universal Nashville... Darrell Franklin and Brian Wright join MCA/Mercury Nashville.
Kim Buie has been appointed VP of A&R at Lost Highway Records in Nashville. She was previously at Capitol and Island Records in LA.
Kix Brooks of country duo Brooks & Dunn has been elected President of the Country Music Association, the first time CMA has had an artist as president since Tex Ritter in 1965. Brooks is joined by new chairman and previous president, Charlie Anderson of Anderson Merchandisers. London-based BBC TV producer and journalist Mark Hagen has been elected to the CMA Board of Directors, while the Dixie Chicks are this years recipients of the CMA International Artist Achievement Award. which recognizes acts who contribute to the awareness and development of country music outside North America.
RIP: Bobby Hatfield of The Righteous Brothers (63) of natural causes while on tour; longtime Pink Floyd manager Steve O'Rourke (63), from a stroke; US singer/songwriter Elliott Smith (34) has committed suicide; Tony Thompson (48), top session drummer and Chic/Power Station member of renal-cell cancer; Soul singer Arthur Conley (57) of cancer.