Linkin Parks at the Top With 625k

EC Approves UMG-BMG Publishing Merger

EMI Sold to U.K. Private Equity Group

Bulletin Board

Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

May 22, 2007

Can 625k Linkin Park fans be wrong?

Not this week, as WB's rap-rockers debut at #1 on the HITS Top 50 Album chart with their Rick Rubin-produced Minutes to Midnight, boasting the year's largest first-week sales total to date, 625k.

That dwarfs the year's previous best, Norah Jones' Blue Note album, Not Too Late, which sold some 418k albums on its release back in February. It's the biggest rock release since Avril Lavigne's Arista/RMG album, Best Damn Thing, which bowed with 289k in sales last month.

Blackstreet/Universal Motown's smoove R&B singer Tank's Sex, Love & Pain debuted at #2 with 105k in sales. Nonesuch/Atlantic critical alterna-darlings Wilco rode an impressive iTunes showing to a #4 bow, with 75k in sales, while Columbia Nashville's Gretchen Wilson (#5) and Megadeth's Roadrunner debut, United Abominations (#8), are the other Top 10 newcomers.

Holdovers include last week's #1, Reprise crooner Michael Buble (#3), Lavigne (#6), Def Jam's Ne-Yo (#7), RCA/RMG's Daughtry (#9) and Interscope's Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (#10).

Other newcomers include Rufus Wainwright's new Geffen CD, Release the Stars (#28), Geffen's Shrek the Third soundtrack (#46) and Metal Blade's Job for a Cowboy album (#50).

Universal Republic's scorching diva Amy Winehouse (#12, +6%) and Big Machine country heartthrob Taylor Swift (#13, +7%) both show upward mobility, while Island's Fall Out Boy (#43-34) sports the biggest chart jump.

In addition, Idol alum Elliott Yamin's self-titled debut on Sony/ATV's Hickory label re-enters at #18, thanks to his performance on last week's edition of the hit Fox program. John Mayer's Columbia album, The Village Sessions EP, released exclusively to indie retailers several months ago, enters the chart at #29, thanks to now being available digitally.

Next week, look for A&M/Octone's multiplatinum stars Maroon 5 to debut in the Top 2 with its much-anticipated sophomore album, It Won't Be Soon Before Long, while Epic metal god Ozzy Osbourne's Black Rain (which includes two free tickets to Ozzfest) looks right now like a lock for the top 5.

HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.

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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

May 22, 2007

As expected, the European Commission today approved Universal Music Group's acquisition of BMG Music Publishing. The decision by the regulatory commission follows extensive consultation with all parties involved and a full investigation into the competitive effects of the acquisition.

UMG had already received clearance in the U.S. and Australia and final closure of the deal will take place shortly. Universal Music Publishing is now the largest company of its kind in the world.

"We are delighted that the European Commission has approved our acquisition of BMG Music Publishing," stated UMG boss Doug Morris. "This is an historic moment for us as we combine the best creative and strategic assets of these two very accomplished publishing businesses."

"The merging of Universal Music Publishing Group with BMG Music will create a publishing business that is even better suited to serve our songwriters, composers and business partners in this challenging marketplace," commented UMG President/COO Zach Horowitz. "We now look forward to closing the deal as quickly as possible so that we can focus on the successful integration of both companies."

As a result of the transaction, Universal Music Publishing Group will divest certain assets, including such catalogs as Rondor UK and Zomba UK, as well as the European rights to Zomba US. The company, however, will retain the rights to represent these catalogs in the United States and rest of the world outside of Europe.

Upon closure of the acquisition, the combined company will operate under the Universal Music Publishing Group brand and will be led by David Renzer, its current Chairman/CEO, based in L.A. and repoting to Horowitz.

The combined company will include a vast catalog that comprises some of the most important recordings in history, including Mariah Carey, Paul Simon, Prince, Ludacris, Dave Grohl, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Michel Sardou, Juanes, U2, Shania Twain, Christina Aguilera, Anastasia, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, No Doubt, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, and the works of Elton John, Barry Manilow, Henry Mancini, Gilbert Becaud, Leonard Bernstein, The Scorpions, Puccini and Ravel, among many others.

Meanwhile, IMPALA, the European association of independent labels which forced the EC to reconsider the Sony BMG pairing, and solicited concessions from WMG if it acquired EMI, reiterates the right to examine this merger as well.

"IMPALA notes that the decision sends a clear message to all the majors that mergers without concessions will not be permitted. The independents will now assess the decision in detail to determine whether the remedies are an effective check on the market power of UniversalBMG—now the world's biggest record company and music publisher.

"IMPALA reserves the right to seek a reversal and stay of the decision on both procedural and substantive grounds if, after consultation with its members, it concludes the remedies are insufficient. The increased market power of UniversalBMG in publishing and recording raises serious concerns of both single and collective dominance and would have justified outright prohibition. The parties proposed remedies in an attempt to address the Commission's concerns."

Said IMPALA Chairman and Beggars Banquet head Martin Mills: "The remedies proposed by UniversalBMG early on showed how concerned they were to avoid a full public list of complaints against the merger. We now need to check how far they go in dealing with the problems. It is vital that UniversalBMG's excessive market power is curbed and we will compare this in detail with what we have agreed with Warner."

HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.

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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

May 21, 2007

It's the end of one era... or error, as the case may be, and the beginning of another.

The Board of Directors of Maltby and Directors of EMI have announced the terms of a recommended cash offer for EMI at a price of 265 pence in cash (U.S. $5.23) for each EMI share, valuing EMI on an enterprise value basis at approximately $4.7 billion U.S. and valuing the entire issued share capital of EMI at approximately 2.4 billion. Some speculation has Warner Music Group, already examining EMI's books, making a counter-offer.

EMI shares soared on the news to finish 8.5% higher at 269 pence (U.S. $5.30) at the closing of the London Stock Exchange today.

Maltby is a newly incorporated company formed at the direction of British private-equity house Terra Firma for the purpose of making the offer.

Said Terra Firma CEO Guy Hands: "Terra Firma's objective is to build on EMI's current position as one of the world's leading music companies and accelerate the development of its digital and online strategy to fully exploit this long-term growth opportunity."

Hands built up Nomura Holdings' buyout business in the '90s before qutting to run his own firm with Nomura's backing in 2002.

EMI Chairman John Gildersleeve said the company received "several" proposals, but that the Terra Firma offer delivers cash now without regulatory uncertainty.

"The global music industry is undergoing significant change and, whilst EMI is confident in its ability to deliver its recently announced restructuring plans, significant undertainty exists as to the timing and extent of future market developments. Terra Firma's offer is the most attractive proposal received with the minimum of operational risk to the compay.

Reuters reports Terra Firma plans to keep the company in one piece, retain existing management and proceed with plans to securitize the company's music publishing assets. It had been widely believed that a private equity buyer might only keep the cash-generative music publishing arm and sell the struggling recorded music division to WMG.

Said a source close to the company: "Terra Firma sees significant opportunity on both sides of the business. It believes in the digital growth opportunity in the music market, in general, and so the expectation is that the business will be held together."

The price of 265 pence per EMI share represents a premium of 13.2% from 234 pence, being the average closing price per share over the one-month period ended on Feb. 19, 2007, the business day prior to EMI's announcement that it had received an approach from WMG. There's also a premium of 19.4% from 222 pence, the closing price per share on Feb. 19, 2007, the business day prior to EMI's announcement that it had received the WMG offer.

The company reported a net loss of 288.5 pounds, following a profit of 86.1 million pounds in 2006. The net loss ws caused by a charge of $819.4 million (416 pounds) related to restructuring, amortization and financing costs. Today, they announced a 15% drop in sales, to $3.5 billion (2.6 billion pounds).

The Board of Directors of EMI intends to recommend unanimously that EMI shareholders accept the offer. Greenhill, Citi and Deutsche Bank are acting as joint financial advisers to EMI. Citi and Deutsche Bank have existing relationships with Terra Firma and therefore Greenhill is acting as the adviser to EMI.

HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.

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By Kenny Kerner

The joke of the industry over the past two months has been the Keith Richards interview for NME in England. The famous Rolling Stones guitarist is still reeling from the comments he made in jest. Here's the comment: "The strangest thing I ever tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father. He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a bit of went down pretty well and I'm still alive." Well, the damage control police were called out immediately to let us know that Mr. Richards was just kidding. Boy, talk about bad taste!

For the first time ever, a Country song received a platinum ringtone award from the RIAA. The honor went to Waylon Jennings for his classic, "Theme from the Dukes of Hazzard."

iTunes has added a "complete my album" option to allow consumers to purchase the rest of an artist's album after they purchase an initial one or two tracks beforehand. The new feature will automatically adjust the price of the album based on the total cost minus tracks already purchased.

Country superstars Rascal Flatts have set September 25 as the release date for their fifth album produced by Dann Huff. Their last effort, Me and My Gang is nearing the four million mark in sales.

The Police, Smashing Pumpkins, and the Beastie Boys will headline this year's Virgin Fest being held August 4-5 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

The new Bon Jovi CD was produced by Dann Huff with initial single, "(You Want To) Make a Memory," which is already out to radio. The single will also be serviced to Country markets. It's glam all over again as Poison and Ratt will tour together this summer for the first time since 1999. Acts will play some 50-60 dates being booked by APA. First date is June 13 in Greenville, South Carolina.

Cherry Lane Publishing has concluded a five year deal with Motley Crue guitarist Mick Mars. Under the deal, the publisher will administer Mars' catalog worldwide and co-publish his future songs. Mars co-wrote such Crue hits as "Girls, Girls, Girls," "Dr. Feelgood," and "Same Ol' Situation."

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