Brandle’s Global Bits: iTunes Radio Launches in Australia, Eurovision Cracks Down On Vote-Rigging, New CEO At MAMA


iTunes Radio Tunes Into Australia:

Apple has launched iTunes Radio in Australia — marking the service’s first expansion outside the United States. The streaming music operation dropped with little fanfare today, boasting more than 100 stations which can be tuned into via Apple’s devices — the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Apple TV, and the PC.

Australia — with its affluent English-speaking population and huge appetite for music — has become the first destination-of-choice for digital music services looking to expand their international footprint. In the space of three months during 2013, Google Play Music and iHeartRadio arrived Down Under, for those respective services’ first steps outside the U.S.

It used to be that Australia had to get in the queue with everyone else, but the market has now leap-frogged Europe’s top economies as the place where new digital music businesses test the waters.

When the iTunes music store arrived in the United States in 2003, Apple turned to the U.K., Germany and France for its first venture abroad, launching there in 2004. Australian consumers had to wait until October 2005 before trying the download store, which is still the runaway No. 1 download service Down Under.

In Australia, iTunes Radio arrives in a market with some 30-plus digital music services already jostling for position.

Eurovision Gets Serious On Vote-Rigging:

Whether you like it, or laugh at it, the Eurovision Song Contest is a big deal. And organizers of the camp contest want to ensure it provides good, clean fun.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has announced that any country found to indulge in vote-rigging at the Eurovision will face bans of up to three years.

The broadcaster made the call having investigated claims of dodgy activities during the 2013 competition (ultimately won — fairly — by Denmark).

Azerbaijan was accused of trying to buy votes from jurors and members of the public, though the ECU insisted no broadcaster was responsible. And that the fix didn’t succeed.

It’s hoped tightening rules will “strengthen the credibility of the voting and protect the Eurovision Song Contest brand,” the EBU says.

Veteran British broadcaster Terry Wogan bowed out in 2008 having hosted the British feed of the show for more than 30 years. Wogan had become increasingly critical of the show’s politics, with neighboring countries voting for each other.

The Eurovision Song Contest has been broadcast every year since 1956, making it one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. This year’s contest takes place May 10 in Copenhagen.

New CEO At U.K.’s MAMA Group:

Rory Bett is the new CEO of Britain’s MAMA Group, not long ago the live division of retail chain HMV.

Bett, a company veteran who brings to the role more than 25 years in senior business positions, succeeds MAMA’s co-founder Dean James, who together with Adam Driscoll established MAMA back in 2005. James has left the business to “focus on his outside interests.”

MAMA claims to be the leading “mid-market live music business in the United Kingdom” with a portfolio which includes London venues the Forum, the Borderline and Barfly. For a few years, the group represented HMV’s diversified future.

HMV completed its acquisition of MAMA for £46 million ($75 million) in 2010. But as HMV’s debt burden and shrinking entertainment sales became a big issue with its lenders, Lloyds Development Capital financed a James-led management buyout of the live division. MAMA changed hands in a deal worth £7.3 million ($12 million).  As part of the deal HMV also shed its 50% interest in the Mean Fiddler joint venture it held with MAMA, which it agreed for £18.25 million ($30 million) back in January 2009.

At the end of 2012, MAMA claimed to have hosted more than 2,700 events annually in the U.K., with up to one million people visiting its venues and 150,000 attending its festivals each year.

Canada’s Dine Alone Finds A New Hub:

Canadian indie record company Dine Alone has forged a deal to exclusively release the album titles for North America from Australia’s Hub The Label.

Dine Alone was established in 2005 in Toronto, and has earned a reputation for good taste with releases from the likes of City and Colour, At The Drive In and The Lumineers. Dine Alone is distributed by Universal in Canada and Caroline/Universal in the U.S.

Hub was established by Sydney-based Hub Artist Services founder Troy Barrott, and is distributed locally through its partner Inertia. Hub dropped its first album release in 2012 and has issued recordings from Dappled Cities, Zeahorse, Winter People and Glass Towers, whose debut album, “Halcyon Days” will be the first issued through the new Dine Alone arrangement. “Halcyon Days” arrives June 10, following the Feb. 18 release of the “Collarbone Jungle” EP. Hub recently added British alternative pop act Thumpers to its roster.

“Since Hub and Dine Alone were seeded, planted, grown and have roots in two colonies of the British Empire it only makes sense to work together,” comments Dine Alone founder Joel Carriere. “Plus, have you been to Canada in the winter? We’ll be visiting Hub often during our winter months.”

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