HITS Daily Double
"Farmclub.com will continue to be an important sub-brand for unsigned bands and up-and-coming artists. And I'm sure the expertise they have built up on TV will help us with our own show."
—–Andrew Nibley


Layoffs Expected on TV, Label Sides of Farmclub
We know that you probably won't believe it until you read it in tomorrow's industry bible, Billboard Bulletin, but we'll go ahead and spoil the surprise by reporting it today.

As expected, Vivendi Universal has acquired the other half of online site GetMusic from BMG and will fold Farmclub.com into the entity, with Andrew Nibley heading the combined company as CEO.

UMG President/COO Zach Horowitz said the joining of the two operations "builds on the strength of both companies and creates one of the Web's most compelling online music content destinations. Both attract a strong, loyal and growing audience. Andy Nibley has developed GetMusic into one of the Internet's most popular music sites and he's one of those rare executives with great creativity and strong business acumen. And he directs me to the best porn sites on the web."

With GetMusic's 2 million monthly unique visitors added to Farmclub's 900k, the merged site will be #2 to MTV.com's reported 3 million-plus users in terms of music-content sites. Add the combined properties of GetMusic.com, Farmclub.com and RollingStone.com, which UMG acquired when it bought EMusic earlier this month for approximately $24 million, and the total is 4.6 million monthly visitors, while MTVi properties number 6.4 million, according to Jupiter Media Metrix.

"Our goal was to put ourselves into a Hertz-Avis situation with MTV.com," explains Nibley, "We wanted to pit Vivendi Universal's online properties with Viacom's, in a head-to-head competition. It made sense to pool these two wholly owned entities to create a property that is greater than the sum of its parts."

One component of the merger will be layoffs, especially on the TV and label sides of Farmclub.com. Production of Farmclub's TV show will not resume after the current hiatus, though GetMusic will launch its own hour-long syndicated program incorporating content both from its website and Farmclub footage that has already been shot. The combined GetMusic will number approximately 120 employees. Among the execs let go were Sr. VP Music Programming & Talent Relations Darcy Fullmer, Sr. VP Media Relations Nancy Sullivan, Sr. VP Business & Legal Affairs Stacy Kreisberg, VP A&R Marc Nathan, VP Business Development Larry Linietsky and Manager of Media Relations Debi Bensinger.

The newly combined operations will maintain headquarters in New York with offices in Los Angeles, Nashville and London. GetMusic International Ltd. will work hand-in-hand with Vizzavi, the multi-acess European portal created by Vivendi Universal and wireless leader Vodafone.

"Farmclub.com will continue to be an important sub-brand for unsigned bands and up-and-coming artists," explains Nibley. "And I'm sure the expertise they have built up on TV will help us with our own show. Our combined operations will generate huge traffic and have great content, with little overlap in demographics. The difference is, we're going from the Net to TV, rather than vice versa."

Nibley says the new company will concentrate on syndicating its content to both online and offline media. Farmclub.com will continue as an A&R source for the UMG labels. GetMusic was established in April 1999 as a joint venture between UMG and BMG.

Farmclub.com President Andy Schuon is reportedly in negotiations to head Duet, Vivendi Universal and Sony's digital subscription initiative, which is slated to debut later this year and reside on Yahoo.

"Andy and I are great friends," says Nibley. "We are in constant consultation over this transition period and I think he would make a brilliant head of Duet."