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NEAR TRUTHS YEAR-END WRAP-UP, PART 2: CAPOS AND COPYRIGHTS

Read Part 1 here.

CAPOS AND COPYRIGHTS: The music-publishing world experienced a series of tectonic shifts in 2018. First and foremost, Sony completed its long-anticipated acquisition of EMI Music Publishing for $2.3 billion, thus moving Sony/ATV from giant to behemoth. What’s more, boss Marty Bandier, it was announced, would step down in 2019 and be succeeded by Warner/Chappell chief Jon Platt.

The exit of Bandier, who really invented the modern publishing game, from the major-pubco world alters the landscape considerably; Platt’s ascent to the SATV post, meanwhile, is but the latest stunning achievement in a truly marvelous career. Platt, in addition to transforming W/C’s business at home and abroad, has been a champion of diversity, as his empowering of such young execs as Carianne Marshall, Ryan Press and Katie Vinten, among many others, has amply testified—and for which he was justly acclaimed as the year’s City of Hope honoree. The deal to install longtime SATV player Guy Moot as Platt's successor in the leadership chair is said to be all but done. In which case Moot will, like Marty, have to contend with competing against Platt and the steadfast Jody Gerson, who continues to move from strength to strength at UMPG. Advantage Gerson: Unlike her competitors, she doesn’t have to build a new team.

Big changes went down at BMG as well at year’s end, with Zach Katz exiting and Hartwig Masuch empowering Thomas Scherer in L.A., John Loeffler in NYC and the Kos Weaver-Jon Loba tandem in Nashville. On the label side, Steve Greenberg broke Alternative troupe AJR. Katz had been the subject of much chatter as a possible player in the W/C saga, but early reports following his BMG exit suggested a different destination.

DIGITAL MANIPULATION: The tech sphere, too, saw major changes at the top. Just as Spotify’s stock hit the market—and ballooned stratospherically—there was an exodus of music people and others from the streamery (many of them cashing out after the company went public), notably industry-friendly figures like Troy Carter, Dave Rocco and key playlister Tuma Basa. Nick Holmstén became the key player in the new Spotify order, where the tech guys were clearly regaining control. The same appeared to be happening, in a smaller way, after Jimmy Iovine stepped down as Apple Music topper and Oliver Schusser became the point person for the House that the highly regarded Eddy Cue built; Larry Jackson, who is inextricably associated with Iovine’s reign, remains; his role under Schusser is unclear, and insiders wonder if he will fit in the new order. What will be done to make Zane Lowe and Beats 1 matter more?  In any event, reports say Apple has surpassed the Spot in U.S. subscribers, though the House of Ek still leads globally.

Meanwhile, Amazon has clearly gained marketshare and made considerable ground in winning industry hearts and minds. With voice activation powering streaming growth among its upper-demo users and Steve Boom’s team adding familiar biz faces like label veteran Dan McCarroll, Amazon has emerged as just the kind of tech partner the industry is looking for.

SoundCloud, which has been a goldmine for undiscovered streaming talent, made its most biz-friendly move in recent memory at year’s end by tapping former Sony exec Lisa Ellis as global head of music and artist relations. Does the move signal a pivot by the streamery?

And then there’s YouTube, which has suffered a litany of embarrassments thanks to Head of Music and industry punchline Lyor Cohen, whose crusade against Article 13 of the European copyright directive—in a vain and shameless bid to avoid responsibility for infringing content—is going about as well as Trump’s defense against Mueller. It’s said that the anti-13 campaign, like Cohen’s job, is circling the drain. Keep blogging, dude; you’re almost as persuasive as the President’s tweets. See you at Madeo?

Meanwhile, Pandora, a tech pioneer with a huge user base that has nonetheless struggled for years, was acquired this year by Liberty Media and added to a media portfolio that includes SiriusXM and a big chunk of Live Nation. (Pandora’s successful interface with the biz was helmed by VP Jeff Zuchowski.) News reports have had iHeartMedia—of which Liberty already holds enough debt to own 5% post-bankruptcy—squarely in the company’s sights, perhaps for a 1/3 acquisition. This naturally spurred much speculation about what sort of multi-platform money machine might be fashioned from these disparate parts—and whether Live Nation boss Michael Rapino was exactly the right guy to preside over such a hybrid. While talk also swirled that John Malone and Greg Maffei’s Liberty crew might want to add part of UMG to the mix if it were indeed floated by Vivendi, the music company’s leadership is said to have no interest in such a configuration.

BIG-TICKET ITEMS: As for Live Nation, Rapino’s giant continued to soar on record earnings, wrapping up the year with a company-best quarter ($3.8 billion in revenue).

And then there’s Irving Azoff. The mega-mogul bought out Madison Square Garden’s 50% of Azoff MSG for $125m—once again paying pennies on the dollar to retrieve a property he sold for a pretty penny—and renamed it, humbly enough, The Azoff Co. With Full Stop Management (co-run with son Jeffrey and Brandon Creed), Oak View Group and PRO Global Music Rights, the Swirv is prepared to stir up the shit bigtime in 2019. He added Travis Scott and Maroon 5 to his management stable, while tours by Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead and The Eagles have led to the company’s biggest year ever.

 

Read Part 1 here.

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