Robbie Williams signs to Sony Music
Sony Music has signed Robbie Williams in what UK chairman/CEO Jason Iley describes as a “once in a lifetime” deal. As revealed last night by Music Week, the former Take That star – who has sold 70 million albums worldwide – has inked a new exclusive worldwide deal with Sony. His 11th studio album will be released in the UK by Columbia Records, where he joins fellow superstars such as Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen and the Foo Fighters. His US label home is yet to be decided. “We are delighted to be working with Robbie,” said Iley. “This is a once in a lifetime signing with the biggest male solo artist of our generation. When he met the team, there was an immediate connection and we are immensely proud to be releasing what is sure to be an album that defines an exciting new chapter for Robbie.” “The team at Sony are professional, incredibly hungry, and have a great energy,” said Williams, who will reunite with long-time songwriting partner Guy Chambers on the new, as-yet-untitled album. “They’re inspired, I’m inspired. I’m more ready than I ever have been and I’m totally convinced I’m in the right place. I look forward to working on this album, which is an album I’m immensely proud of, in this exciting new partnership with Sony Music.” Read more on Robbie in the new issue of Music Week, and stay tuned for updates online throughout the day. (Music Week)
UK Music welcomes new mayor Sadiq Khan
UK Music has congratulated MP Sadiq Khan in his victory in the London mayoral election. In a statement, the umbrella organisation for the music business said: “UK Music knows that Sadiq is a music fan. That is one of the reasons we are delighted that Londoners have put their trust in him as our new Mayor. London has made the right choice.” It added: “The new Mayor has committed to producing a visionary Cultural Infrastructure Plan for 2030. We applaud this foresight and it is the new Mayor’s long-term view that is exactly what London’s music scene deserves. Sadiq has agreed to build on our incredibly strong musical tourist industry, one that UK Music celebrates in our Wish You Were Here report to be published in June. He has agreed to set up Creative Enterprise Zones, providing dedicated small workspace with live-in space so that artists are given extra support to flourish. He has specifically committed to protecting London’s live music venues, clubs and pubs by introducing an “Agent for Change” rule so new developments next to existing venues meet soundproofing costs. We frankly could not have asked for more from the new London Mayor.” UK Music chief executive Jo Dipple said: “I’ve written to the new Mayor to congratulate him and offer the support of UK Music and its members. UK Music needs a Mayor who understands and cares about issues affecting music in London. Sadiq’s Manifesto does just that. I look forward to working with him and his team to deliver policies good enough for London, the capital of music.”
Early reviews of Radiohead’s new freemium-snubbing album
Radiohead’s new album, A Moon Shaped Pool, was released at 7pm last night (Sunday, May 8). But while it appears on the likes of Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon Prime Music, the record is missing from streaming services with free tiers, like Spotify and Deezer – with the latter actually missing every previous album from the band as well. In a statement, a spokesperson for Spotify said: “We look forward to making the rest of A Moon Shaped Pool available on Spotify as soon as we can.” Writing for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis claimed A Moon Shaped Pool “sounds like Radiohead achieving something they’ve never achieved before, a quarter of a century into their career”. The Telegraph’s Neil McCormick said: “The melodic sweetness and sometimes gentle ambience of Moon Shaped Pool may represent Radiohead at their least blood thirsty and most accessible, but there are depths and riches here to suggest a work of total self-assurance.” Andy Beta at The Rolling Stone wrote: “Radiohead's least rock-oriented album in the 21st century doubles as its most gorgeous and desolate album to date.” The New York Times’ Jon Pareles called the band’s ninth studio album “perhaps its darkest statement — though the one with the band’s most pastoral surface”.
Canadian Music Week: Capitol's Barnett hails "most exciting time" for music
Major labels are alive and well and continue to play a crucial role in the global eco-system if they keep on investing in new talent, according to Steve Barnett, the chairman and CEO of Capitol Music Group. Speaking at Canadian Music Week on May 5, the Universal Music Group executive expressed confidence in the future of major label structures. "What is lifeblood of the industry? To break new artists. And who is the best to do that? Us, labels," said Barnett. "Look at Sam Smith, when we do something like that, it helps the whole ecosystem." He added, "I think is it the most exciting time ever for music and the gate keepers can't stop you." Barnett, who is from Wolverhampton, has been involved in the US careers of several British artists. When he was at Columbia he oversaw the launch of Adele's 19 and 21 and worked with One Direction. At Capitol, he was instrumental in building the career of Sam Smith. He praised the support of UMG Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge in the efforts to revitalise Capitol. "I can't think at one time when we wanted to do something that they did not agree to," said Barnett. "They've been very supportive. It was a very difficult acquisition. The idea was to recruit team and our ambition was to rebuild the company. It will go down as a great acquisition. EMI had been belated in the past five years and it is now integrated into Universal which is by far the best system in the world." Barnett also told of his pride to be the custodian of a legacy that includes Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and the Beach Boys, to which he also added recently Neil Diamond. "What's the most important catalogue in the world? The Beatles and we have that," enthused Barnett.
Musical.ly raising $100m in funding – report
Lip-syncing app Musical.ly is in the process of raising around $100 million in funding with a $500m post-money valuation. Details are still being finalised and some deals could fall through, but so far the plan is for GGV Capital and Qiming Venture Partners to co-lead the round, with participation from Greylock Partners and DCM. The company, which calls itself a video social network, raised a round from GGV and Greylock last year; while it received little attention then, the Shanghai-based team claims to now have 60m users, largely composed of young teenagers. Musical.ly declined to comment on any upcoming round, but TechCrunch reports that while the focus is on music videos now, the company does has some pending updates to broaden its appeal to older demographics. (TechCrunch)
Music Week out now
The new edition of Music Week features the full story of Robbie Williams signing to Sony Music on the cover. Inside, Music Week Award winner and disruptive ticketing app Dice takes the Big Interview slot, alongside a full gallery of winners and their wise words from last month’s ceremony. We also take a look at what Drake and Beyoncé’s numbers mean for the UK streaming market. Subscribe here.