Monday, August 22, 2011

Blue Note Records and Citigroup: Some Observations and Speculations

• A couple of years ago, a certain influential record executive who used to be CEO of Blue Note Records (an EMI subsidiary) referred to the label's corporate owners, a private equity firm called Terra Firma, as "f***ing idiots."

• On February 1st of this year, Terra Firma sold EMI—including Blue Note Records—to Citigroup.

• Up to its ears in subprime mortages, Citigroup was bailed out to the tune of billions of dollars by the U.S government (nice article from 2009 here).

• According to this article in the Economist, Citigroup is hoping to sell EMI as soon as it can:
Citi immediately cleansed EMI’s balance-sheet, reducing its debt from £3.4 billion to £1.2 billion. That makes it almost impossible for Citi to recoup its losses from its own entanglement with the label. EMI is worth around £1.5 billion, far less than the £2.2 billion in write-downs the bank has taken. But it does give the bank a better chance of finding a buyer for EMI.
• Earlier this month, Don Was was appointed Blue Note Records' new CEO.  Mazel tov!

• Don Was is the founder of Was (Not Was), which plays music like this:

• Don Was probably doesn't care much for classics of the Blue Note catalogue like Albert Ammons's "Boogie Woogie Stomp" (1939):

...or Don Cherry's "Complete Communion" (1965):

• And Don Was probably knows diddly squat about Ambrose Akinmusire, who recently released his debut Blue Note album, "When the Heart Emerges Glistening":

• It's a good thing Alfred Lion isn't around to witness all this.

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