Showing posts with label vivendi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vivendi. Show all posts

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feds claim Universal label offices used for drug dealing

There's an idea that Guy Hands didn't think of during his time at EMI: using the label offices to ship drugs.

According to DOJ documents published by The Smoking Gun, Interscope, part of the Universal collection of labels, was sucked into the heart of a multimillion drugs shipping outfit when its offices were used as a hub:

Department of Justice prosecutors this week provided defense lawyers with shipping records detailing “pickups and deliveries” made at Interscope’s Los Angeles office by a cargo firm that was used to transport the music cases, which were alternately stuffed with kilos of cocaine and upwards of $1 million in cash.

A year-long Drug Enforcement Administration investigation has resulted in the indictment of James Rosemond on 18 felony charges, which could result in a sentence of life in prison for the 46-year-old rap music manager.
There's no suggestion that the label itself was anything other than an innocent patsy in the operation.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Something else to remember when the RIAA starts heading for the moral high ground

We hear a lot from the RIAA about stealing and right and wrong. It's already pretty hard to stomach - what with the proof that the major labels rigged markets; the way they used their punishment for that as a way of offloading unwanted catalogue; the numerous artists who have proven in court that they were bounced into signing unfair contracts and so on.

Add to this Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Junior, who has just been convicted of making millions of dollars through insider trading.

Honestly, that's just like, ooh, stealing piles and piles and piles and piles of CDs from record shops, isn't it? Perhaps the RIAA should get Britney Spears to make a little PSA trying to warn people out of it. Maybe Warner product should carry a little skull-and-crossbones with the words 'Insider dealing is killing financial services'.

Bronfman, naturally, doesn't deny the deal, but maintains that exploiting information not known to the general public in order to achieve a massive financial gain isn't wrong:

Bronfman issued a statement saying he's disappointed the judge didn't share the position of both the public prosecutor and the lead civil claimant in France, the Association of Small Shareholders. Both, according to Bronfman and his lawyer, said he should have been acquitted.

"I will appeal today's decision to the Paris Court of Appeal and continue to vigorously defend myself against this charge," he said in a statement issued by WMG.
It's not a charge, Edgar. You might win an appeal, but until then: you've been convicted. You're a criminal, Edgar, and no better than those kids downloading copies of songs without paying. Right? Because there are no grey areas, are there?

Former Vivendi chairman Jean-Marie Messier was also convicted.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vivendi play computer games as Universal profits slide

Vivendi had much to be happy about in its latest set of figures, announced today. Helped by its soaring computer games business, it posted profits of €3.58 billion (£3.23 billion) for the nine months to September - that not even counting the money it's making right now from Call Of Duty.

Universal, though, proved a little less glittering, with revenue in the third quarter of the year down 62% year-on-year. The glimmer, though, is that even this mismanaged behemoth in a business whose supernormal profits are evaporating, has managed to make profits of €269 million (£243 million) in the nine months to October. A quarter of a billion in profits. And yet this is a company supposedly being so damaged by piracy that it requires draconian legislation worldwide.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

French Record Label boss suggests that UK does like France

The government is hosting an event called, I'm afraid, C&binet today. (Creativity & Business International Network is the reversed-out long form of the not-quite-an-acronym there.)

One of the speakers was Jean Bernard-Levy, head of Vivendi, taking the opportunity to push three strikes onto the agenda. After all, that's how it's done back home in France:

Levy [...] said that while it was too soon to gauge the results of the introduction of the "three-strikes" policy in France, it was a necessary step to protect content owners.

Righto. Let's just consider that.

There's not been any time to judge if it works, but it's necessary. Whether it works or not.
"Britain should be more in favour of developing the media industries and even if France is ahead in legislation it should be obvious [that the UK should] be doing something like three strikes," he added.

Why "obvious"? And where does the idea that throwing people off the internet will lead to a developed media industry actually come from?
Levy said Vivendi, despite owning one of France's largest internet service providers (ISPs), telecoms operator SFR, was convinced the tough legislative strategy would not harm internet use. He added that he expected no real reduction in legal web traffic.

Really? There's all these pirates who need to be chased off the net, and yet chasing them off won't actually make a difference to the levels of web traffic? Does Levy believe that people who make unlicensed copies only use their computers for evil? Or is it just that there are such a very small number of people who would be affected by the law as to make no significant difference to anything?

Vivendi owns an ISP as well as a record label:
"There is no way at Vivendi that there is an internal debate – the priority is to reward and monetise content. The priority is not to grow traffic on ISPs," Levy said.

Well, that's good news for Vivendi. If you were a company whose main business was in telecommunications rather than content, you might wonder why a person with a foot in two camps is being allowed to make the running with deciding that content is more important than connectivity. It's like a person who runs a grocery deciding that cheese is going to be produced at the expense of beef, and expecting the butchers to agree with him because he has a meat counter himself.

And didn't you just say Levy that this wasn't going to affect traffic on the web? Why, all of a sudden, does three strikes have a priority?

Come to that, while you can see why Vivendi might decide this should be a priority, is it societally better for people who own the means of communication to decide they should be used primarily for enriching record companies instead of driving upwards the number of people using the internet? Wouldn't it be better for all industries if ISPs were trying to make getting online as easy and convenient as possible for the largest numbers, instead of focusing their efforts on trying to squeeze a few extra quid out of an old Peter Gabriel album?

Levy, naturally, doesn't worry about the human rights questions of disconnecting people from a source of democratic and civil engagement:
"When you send warning letters to people then they can't say they did not know [they were breaking the law]. It is a short-term view to say 'I don't want to hurt the public'."

Good lord, imagine taking such a short-term view as not wanting to hurt actual people, instead of the long-term view of Vivendi's share price. Do you think Vivendi would ever have been involved in bribing politicians in Milan if they'd ever stopped to worry about such short-term views? Or having a go at price-fixing.
He added that for the music industry, models such as Spotify's "freemium" strategy, where users can choose between free streamed songs with advertising or paying a subscription to avoid ads, had "yet to be proven profitable" despite the mass hype.

Ah, so we've not seen any proof that three strikes work, but we must just accept that it does; however, we've not seen any proof that freemium delivers profits, so we should assume that it doesn't. That seems fair.

Incidentally, how can the music industry not be making a profit from Spotify? It's not like every record is having to be re-recorded or re-promoted? Levy seems to be arguing that if you eat yesterday's leftover pizza for lunch, you're not saving any money.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Vivendi launches Zaoza. No, really, that's what it's called.

The people who are trying to shore up what's left of the Virgin retail empire can allow themselves a small smile this lunchtime - Zavvi is no longer the worst name in the music business.

That honour goes to Zaoza, a new service from Vivendi which manages to be both unpronounceable and unspellable. The idea is a pan-European subscription service providing ringtones, music and computer games. Which makes sense from their point of view, as they make all those things, but is harder to see as being a compelling offer to a customer. Why would I want to pay a subscription for three things when I only want one of them?

Even Vivendi isn't making any great claims - estimating it'll have half a million subscribers across the continent by Christmas. At that rate - and having blown ten million Euro on it - they expect to be in profit by Autumn. Good luck with that, then.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

It only takes a Midem, girl: MIDEM 2008

This weekend, the music industry is gathering for its annual back-slap and tax-write-off in the South of France at Midem.

Yes, yes, it's funny how an industry which can only be saved by changing the centuries-old relationship between creative people, the public and copyrights can still afford to have a big old bunfight in one of the most expensive places on Earth, isn't it?

The first big announcements of the event has come at a session with Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy, who signalled that Universal is still fond of DRM, reports PaidContent:

"We are still testing (DRM-free models) - but our policy is still that we are strongly attached to DRM, especially for advertising-based models and subscription-based models."


Levy also predicted that CDs have a long - if not entirely glorious - future:
“People for many years will still buy physical products from shelves ... in Tesco and in Walmart. There is a very large segment of consumers, a very wide population that will still buy physical products. But we also understand that there is a decline. I believe there will be sales of physical products still for many years.”

We're not sure, judging by how Tesco and WalMart are reigning in their CD rackspace, that the stores feel that their customers are going to be buying physical products from them for very much longer. Nobody apparently asked him how this large segment of CD-buying punters can exist if the threat of download piracy is so great, but then much of the audience for Levy's speech is drawn from those of similar degrees of inconsistent thought.

Assuming anything else happens at Midem worth mentioning, we'll build a mini-index here
Sony BMG favour all-you-can-eat model
Harvey Goldsmith realises something's up
Qtrax: Legal peer-to-peer service announced
YouTube want to hand out cash... what's stopping them?
QTrax falls apart
RoyaltyShare threatens traditional collection agencies
QTrax: the "ink is not dry"
SpiralFrog battles bravely on
U2's camp calls for ISPs to be punished
John Kennedy wants broadband switched off for bad boys
QTrax: was it all a stock stunt?
FT smells restraint; misses QTrax's funny smell
Orange being hobbled by DRM


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Vivendi: 70 per cent rake-off isn't enough

Perhaps we should just embed Depeche Mode doing Everything Counts in the blog and have done with: Vivendi have decided that there is something "obscene" about Apple taking 30 cents in the dollar from every iTunes sale - despite, you know, having built the store, developed the market, carrying the distribution overhead.

Although on the average CD retailers and distribution costs, and making the physical product, accounts for about 60% of the retail cost. So from keeping 40 cents in the pound, the record company is now getting 70 cents - and they're making that on ancient back catalogue as well, the sort of songs that they'd be lucky to sell for ten-for-a-dollar on CD, if they even bothered to activate that catalogue. And no money tied up in stock, either.

We're not quite sure where the obscenity is, apart from the idea of a greedy company demanding even more.

Oh, what the heck:


Thursday, December 12, 2002

While the record labels lecture us about probity and legality and rights and honesty

The French police are raiding Vivendi Universal's headquarters to investigate claims that the parent company of Universal and Island records knowingly published false information.


Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Universal results service

Doom and debt-laden dinosaur Vivendi-Universal has released its figures for third-quarter sales, and what's most interesting from our perspective is that revenues at Universal Music Group dropped nine per cent, but they still managed to studd EUR1.3bn into their sack. And this is while they're pleading sickliness...