Results for Universal Music Group

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Music News

One of the biggest sales in record company history has just been completed. EMI, until now one of the four remaining major labels, is being broken up and sold off by the megabank Citigroup for a combined $4.1 billion. After many months of negotiations, French media company Vivendi, which owns Universal Music Group, will buy EMI's recorded music division and Sony Corp. will pick up the publishing arm. Now we're down to three. But some people speculate that consolidation is necessary for this industry's survival. One thing is certain, Universal, already the largest music company in the world, with an estimated 27% of the global market, is now an even bigger giant with the addition of Coldplay, Katy Perry and Pink Floyd to its roster.

It may be years too late, but Google is finally in the digital music business. They launched their online store with a splash on Wednesday, demonstrating how its 13 million songs will be integrated with Android and can be accessed across various devices and shared with friends. The Internet company inked licensing deals with 2 of the 3 labels, save Warner Music Group, but it seems unlikely Google be able to compete with reigning digital music king iTunes, as well as services from Amazon and Spotify. The secret to success rests with its dominant search engine. People will come to Google Music first. But will they stay is the real question.

Go to episode 312

Music News

This week American and European regulators gave their official blessing to the merger of Universal Music Group and EMI. The big four major labels are now down to three. So what could go wrong with one company controlling more than forty percent of the music market? According to Greg, a lot. Take a streaming service like Spotify: for Spotify to launch, the company had to obtain licensing deals for its music from the majors. With so much of the world's music now in UMG's hands, Greg predicts it's going to be a lot tougher for tomorrow's Spotifys and Pandoras to get into business. He sums it up: big tech and big labels 1, the little guy, 0.

Are you one of the three remaining people on earth who haven't seen Psy's "Gangnam Style" video? Better get hip fast. The South Korean rapper just broke the Guinness Book of World Records' entry for most YouTube likes (2.2 million). Back in June Sound Opinions prophesied that K-pop - Korean pop music - was poised to make a big splash in the States. But even Jim admits he never thought the genre's breakout star would be a rotund rapper singing about a posh Seoul neighborhood.

Go to episode 357

Music News

There were not one, but two hissy fits thrown by major pop stars this year. The first was by the always incendiary rapper Kanye West. Sound Opinions is a big fan of West, but sometimes he makes it darn hard. At the MTV Europe Music Awards, which will air in the States this weekend, West stormed the stage after losing the award for Best Music Video. He interrupted winners Justice and Simian as they were accepting their award and told viewers that by not winning,“the show loses credibility.”The number of expletives the Chicago native used was less shocking than the fact that he thinks MTV awards have credibility. But, we'll let you be the judge: "Touch the Sky" vs. "We Are Your Friends."

Hissy fit #2 was thrown by Elton John. At a recent concert in New York, the singer/songwriter ranted about his label's lack of interest in promoting his new album, The Captain and the Kid. He demanded to be dropped from Universal Music Group, and told the audience,“I'm 58 and I don't care anymore.”He also dropped the F-bomb 15 times. (Insert "Bitch is Back" joke here). Jim and Greg are rarely ones to defend major labels, but they float the idea that perhaps The Captain and the Kid just wasn't very good.

Go to episode 50

Music News

The Payola investigation conducted by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is making some headway. Universal Music Group, the world's biggest music company, has agreed to pay $12 million to settle accusations that its executives paid radio programmers to play certain songs. This is the largest settlement of its kind. Warner Music Group and Sony BMG made similar deals last year, and Mr. Spitzer is still in the process of investigating EMI, as well as radio companies like Clear Channel and CBS Radio. And, as we heard a couple of weeks ago, the FCC is conducting a similar inquiry. As always, Sound Opinions H.Q. will keep you posted.

Another story in the news this week suggests that record company lawyers won't be taking a break any time soon. All four of the major record labels have just launched a lawsuit against XM Satellite Radio. Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI all claim that a new XM device called the "Inno" violates music copyright law by allowing people to not only listen to satellite radio, but record it. Therefore, according to the labels, XM has become a digital retailer, like iTunes, and should be required to pay similar fees. It's yet another example of the recording industry scorning new technology rather than embracing it.

Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose is also making news, though Jim and Greg are wondering why. The buzz is that his long-awaited album Chinese Democracy is forthcoming — but our hosts are skeptical. Rose has been saying that he's on the brink of finishing for years (15 to be exact), and in the process he's become one of the long-running jokes in the music industry. But fans can take solace in the fact that the singer recently performed some Chinese Democracy tracks in New York. A good sign indeed.

Go to episode 25

Music News

By Christmas this year, get ready for war…in the digital universe, that is. Google has announced plans to open a digital store and music service that would compete with iTunes. Not to be left out, Apple has gotten in on social networking with its new service Ping. Currently there are other sites like Pandora that merge social sharing with music, but with iTunes' 160 million users, they are likely to dominate this turf.

With a #1record on the Billboard Chart, Eminem hardly needs any handouts. But, a court ruling recently made him an even richer man. A federal appeals court has overturned a victory for Universal Music Group in a dispute over how much in royalties it owes the rapper for digital sales of his songs. A previous ruling said that Eminem would receive traditional song royalties for digital tracks. Now he'll be“licensing”his songs rather than selling them. So his rate of return jumps from 18% to around 50%. If this decision sticks, the music industry is in for some big losses.

Sound Opinions wishes congratulations to recent guests The xx. The British trio was just crowned the winner of that country's Mercury Prize. Jim and Greg note that this achievement can sometimes mean more than prizes like the Grammy's in the states because the judges are not just industry insiders, but critics like this year's chairman Simon Frith. Frith credits the group's mysterious atmosphere for the win, which many thought would go to veteran musician Paul Weller. Cheers to you xx!

Go to episode 250

Music News

If you were one of the reportedly billion people who tuned into the Olympic opening ceremony this week, you might be surprised to learn that most of the heavy-hitting British artists who performed - Arctic Monkeys, Emeli Sand'e, Dizzee Rascal, and Sir Paul McCartney among them - were paid only 1 lb for their troubles. Universal Music Group on the other hand, is raking in the dough. Isles of Wonder, the official soundtrack of the opening ceremony, which Universal released, is charting in the top five albums in UK, France, Belgium, Spain, and the U.S.

Go to episode 349

Music News

Move over Elvis, there's a new king in town and that king…is a cowboy. Garth Brooks once again surpassed Elvis Presley as the best-selling solo artist of all time in the U.S., selling 135 million units. Brooks is thoroughly beating his competition, as the number two country artist on the list is George Strait at only 69 million units. While Garth reigns supreme in the solo category, The Beatles are the best-selling music act with 178 million units.

In other news, Universal Music Group filed a lawsuit against two companies that distribute mixtapes to individuals in prisons claiming licensing infringement. The defendants argued that their efforts were to prevent contraband within prisons, however it looks like they could be spending more time fighting the law than their consumers.

The punk band Stereofire Empire found a missing painting in the New Orleans House of Blues that was worth $250,000. One member of the group was an art collector and recognized the stolen item. While they returned it (ala the Scooby Doo gang), the culprit is still at large. rodrigue

Go to episode 477