Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #303 If Music Be the Food of Love, Munch On! Part IV

MP3 Side 1 | Side 2

This pro­gram sup­ple­ments an ongo­ing series, dat­ing to Decem­ber of 1998.

1. The title of this pro­gram derives from a pas­sage from the Nazi tract Ser­pen­t’s Walk. Like The Turn­er Diaries (also pub­lished by Nation­al Van­guard Books), the book seems rather a blue­print for what is going to take place. It is a nov­el about a Nazi takeover of the Unit­ed States in the mid­dle of the 21st cen­tu­ry. The book describes the Third Reich going under­ground, buy­ing into the Amer­i­can media, and tak­ing over the coun­try. “It assumes that Hitler’s war­rior elite — the SS — did­n’t give up their strug­gle for a White world when they lost the Sec­ond World War. Instead their sur­vivors went under­ground and adopt­ed some of their tac­tics of their ene­mies: they began build­ing their eco­nom­ic mus­cle and buy­ing into the opin­ion-form­ing media. A cen­tu­ry after the war they are ready to chal­lenge the democ­rats and Jews for the hearts and minds of White Amer­i­cans, who have begun to have their fill of gov­ern­ment-enforced mul­ti-cul­tur­al­ism and ‘equal­i­ty.’ ” (From the back cov­er of Ser­pen­t’s Walk by “Ran­dolph D. Calver­hall;” Copy­right 1991 [SC]; Nation­al Van­guard Books; 0–937944-05‑X.)

2. This process is described in more detail in a pas­sage of text, con­sist­ing of a dis­cus­sion between Wrench (a mem­ber of this Under­ground Reich) and a mer­ce­nary named Less­ing. “The SS . . . what was left of it . . . had busi­ness objec­tives before and dur­ing World War II. When the war was lost they just kept on, but from oth­er places: Bogo­ta, Asun­cion, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Mex­i­co City, Colom­bo, Dam­as­cus, Dac­ca . . . you name it. They real­ized that the world is head­ing towards a ‘cor­po­racra­cy;’ five or ten inter­na­tion­al super-com­pa­nies that will run every­thing worth run­ning by the year 2100. Those super-cor­po­ra­tions exist now, and they’re already divid­ing up the pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing of food, trans­port, steel and heavy indus­try, oil, the media, and oth­er com­modi­ties. They’re already divid­ing up the pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing of food, trans­port, steel and heavy indus­try, oil, the media, and oth­er com­modi­ties. They’re most­ly con­glom­er­ates, with fin­gers in more than one pie . . . . We, the SS, have the say in four or five. We’ve been com­pet­ing for the past six­ty years or so, and we’re slow­ly gain­ing . . . . About ten years ago, we swung a merge, a takeover, and got vot­ing con­trol of a super­corp that runs a small but sig­nif­i­cant chunk of the Amer­i­can media. Not open­ly, not with bands and trum­pets or swastikas fly­ing, but qui­et­ly: one huge cor­po­ra­tion cud­dling up to anoth­er one and gen­tly munch­ing it up, like a great, gub­bing amoe­ba. Since then we’ve been replac­ing exec­u­tives, push­ing some­body out here, bring­ing some­body else in there. We’ve swing pro­gram con­tent around, too. Not much, but a lit­tle, so it won’t show. We’ve cut down on ‘nasty-Nazi’ movies . . . good guys in white hats and bad guys in black SS hats . . . lov­able Jews ver­sus fiendish Ger­mans . . . and we have media psy­chol­o­gists, ad agen­cies, and behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion spe­cial­ists work­ing on image changes.” (Ibid.; pp. 42–43.)

3. The pro­gram begins with analy­sis of BMG’s plans to become the top-rat­ed music com­pa­ny in the world. (“BMG Waits for Sec­ond Chance to Build Music Empire” by Bertrand Benoit; Finan­cial Times; 5/7/2001; p. 17.) (The “sec­ond chance” men­tioned is a ref­er­ence to BMG’s failed attempt to take over EMI—a move that would have made the Ber­tels­mann-dom­i­nat­ed merged enti­ty the num­ber one music com­pa­ny. Ber­tels­mann has been a major focal point of this series.)

4. One of the pos­si­ble moves that BMG is con­tem­plat­ing is an acqui­si­tion of Zom­ba records. (Idem.)

5. Ber­tels­mann CEO Thomas Mid­del­hoff has used the fact of online music dis­tri­b­u­tion as a talk­ing point in his efforts to side­step con­cerns that a major acqui­si­tion by BMG would be anti-com­pet­i­tive. (Idem.)

6. He down­played talk that BMG could be sold. (“Mid­del­hoff Rules Out any Sale of Music Divi­sion” by Uta Har­nischfeger; Finan­cial Times; 5/7/2001; p. 17.)

7. The dis­cus­sion turns to Zom­ba (20% owned by BMG). This firm was seen as a major play­er in the unsuc­cess­ful nego­ti­a­tions between Ber­tels­mann and EMI and may now be a takeover tar­get of BMG. Zom­ba is an unusu­al­ly secre­tive firm, its founder shun­ning pub­lic­i­ty and the fir­m’s web site fail­ing to give a busi­ness address or phone num­ber! Zom­ba head Clive Calder is a native of South Africa (hav­ing grown up there dur­ing the Apartheid regime.)

8. “As the founder of Zom­ba, which over the past 20-odd years has grown into one of the world’s biggest inde­pen­dent music groups, Mr. Calder has been able to go about his busi­ness in rel­a­tive obscu­ri­ty. Mr. Calder’s assis­tant polite­ly declined a request for an inter­view with the Finan­cial Times, say­ing he was not ready to make an excep­tion to his ‘long-stand­ing no-inter­view pol­i­cy.’ How­ev­er, he now finds him­self thrust into the spot­light as a cen­tral fig­ure in the dis­cus­sions between two of his rivals to cre­ate the world’s largest music group. . . . Close friends and asso­ciates of Mr. Calder remain intense­ly loy­al and are uncom­fort­able talk­ing about him behind his back—even if it is to pile on the com­pli­ments, of which there are many. Indeed, it is hard to find any­one with a bad word to say about this man, who has achieved a near-myth­i­cal sta­tus in the busi­ness. Per­haps that is the genius of a no-press pol­i­cy. Details of his cor­po­rate his­to­ry are almost as scarce. His press office keeps a tight rein on the flow of infor­ma­tion out of the com­pa­ny and zeal­ous­ly guards his pri­va­cy. Web­sites for his busi­ness­es fea­ture only the artists. There are no ‘about us’ links, not even a con­tact address or tele­phone num­ber. So who is Clive Calder? He was born In South Africa and is now 54. He found­ed Zom­ba in Lon­don in the late 1970s, when he began a career in which he has man­aged stars such as Bil­ly Ocean, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and A Tribe Called Quest. . . . He has already been drawn into the dis­cus­sions between EMI and BMG because part of his own com­pa­ny is at stake. BMG has a 20 per cent share­hold­ing in Zom­ba, which is now based in New York. . . . BMG owns the North Amer­i­can dis­tri­b­u­tion rights for Jive, a huge­ly prof­itable label that is said to account for as much as a quar­ter of BMG’s rev­enues in the U.S. and the same pro­por­tion of its world­wide mar­ket share.” (“A Spot­light Turns on the Recluse” by Ash­ling O’Con­nor; Finan­cial Times; 2/23/2001; p. 12.)

9. Mr. Calder’s South African gen­e­sis is inter­est­ing to con­tem­plate in the con­text of his reclu­sive nature and the rel­a­tive­ly secre­tive nature of his busi­ness. The apartheid regime of South Africa and the elite core of its gov­ern­men­tal and com­mer­cial infra­struc­ture (the Broeder­bond) have very strong his­tor­i­cal and insti­tu­tion­al con­nec­tions to the Third Reich. The Broeder­bond was allied with Nazi Ger­many dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and a Third Reich agent, Graf Dur­ck­heim von Mont­martin, was dis­patched to reor­ga­nize the orga­ni­za­tion along the lines of the NSDAP (the Ger­man Nazi par­ty.) The Broeder­bond and the apartheid regime remained very close to what Mr. Emory calls the Under­ground Reich.

10. In light of Zom­ba’s con­nec­tion to BMG (Ber­tels­man­n’s music divi­sion), Calder’s South African birth, the South Africa/Nazi con­nec­tion and the secre­tive nature of Calder and his oper­a­tions, it is not unrea­son­able to ask whether Zom­ba might be a Bor­mann com­pa­ny.

11. The next major top­ic of dis­cus­sion con­cerns Ber­tels­man­n’s entry into dig­i­tal, online music dis­tri­b­u­tion. Hav­ing spurred the move by music com­pa­nies toward online dis­tri­b­u­tion with its alliance with Nap­ster, Ber­tels­mann devel­oped its own music file-shar­ing ser­vice, called Snoop­star. (“Ber­tels­man­n’s Secret Nap­ster Clone” by Boris Gron­dahl; The Stan­dard; 2/26/2001.)

12. Indus­try spec­u­la­tion held that, in the event that Nap­ster failed to recov­er from its legal trou­bles, Snoop­star would become ful­ly oper­a­tional. (Idem.)

13. In con­nec­tion with the Bertelsmann/Napster alliance, it is worth not­ing that Nap­ster’s efforts at resolv­ing its legal dif­fi­cul­ties involved a “peace offer” of $1 bil­lion to the “music majors” as com­pen­sa­tion for pirat­ed titles. (“Nap­ster Makes $1 Bil­lion Peace Offer” by Ben­ny Evan­ge­lista; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 2/21/2001; pp. A1-A6.) It would not be unrea­son­able to sup­pose that Nap­ster’s cap­i­tal back­ing in this instance came from Ber­tels­mann.

14. Ber­tels­man­n’s alliance with Nap­ster appears to have spurred a rush to estab­lish online dis­tri­b­u­tion. BMG was among the firms that con­clud­ed a num­ber of major deals with­in a very short peri­od of time. (“Music Indus­try Tardy to Dig­i­tal Par­ty” by Ben­ny Evan­ge­lista; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 4/9/2001; pp. B1-B3.)

15. In a sin­gle week, Ber­tels­mann announced deals with Music­Net and MTVi Group and RioPort.com Inc. (Idem.)

16. The CEO of Seat­tle-based Real­Net­works cred­it­ed Nap­ster with lead­ing the way. (“Music Pact Is the Real Deal” by Dawn C. Chmielews­ki; San Jose Mer­cury News; 4/3/2001; pp. 1C-6C.)

17. “At first blush, the alliance looks as if Nap­ster’s biggest advo­cate in the record­ing industry—Bertelsmann—has giv­en up on the embat­tled ser­vice. But insid­ers say the exact oppo­site is true: Music-Net pro­vides a way for Nap­ster to final­ly secure legit­i­mate rights from three of the five major record labels now suing it for copy­right infringe­ment.” (Idem.)

18. “[Real­Net­works CEO Ron] Glaser said Music­Net would nego­ti­ate with Nap­ster once it can address legal, copy­right and secu­ri­ty con­cerns.” (Ibid.; p. 6C.)

19. The recent devel­op­ment of the Song­bird soft­ware pro­gram may facil­i­tate Nap­ster’s legit­ima­ti­za­tion. (“Nap­ster May Dance to Song­bird Tune” by Ash­ling O’Con­nor; Finan­cial Times; 5/10/2001; p. 8.)

20. Anoth­er major ele­ment of dis­cus­sion con­cerns Viven­di, the par­ent com­pa­ny of Uni­ver­sal Music. Viven­di is a major French cor­po­ra­tion, hav­ing been found­ed by Napoleon III as a prin­ci­pal gov­ern­ment util­i­ty con­trac­tor. It was trans­formed into a media giant by its CEO, Jean-Marie Messier. “For near­ly a cen­tu­ry and a half, Com­pag­nie Gen­erale des Eaux lived under the shad­ow of Napoleon III, whose impe­r­i­al decree cre­at­ed the com­pa­ny to man­age the sew­er­age and water­works of the French state. So when Jean-Marie Messier. . . became chair­man in 1996, he inher­it­ed a sprawl­ing state con­trac­tor with 2,714 sub­sidiaries, which did every­thing from pump­ing water through Paris to build­ing gen­er­a­tors in Chi­na, to sup­ply­ing school can­teens in Nor­mandy, to exter­mi­nat­ing pests in Papua New Guinea. Since then Mr. Messier has proved to be a busi­ness­man with impe­r­i­al ambi­tions of his own. Over the past five years, he has sold out of sew­er­age and pow­er and bought into music and movies, trad­ing in the com­pa­ny’s 148-year his­to­ry in infra­struc­ture for an unpre­dictable future on the inter­net. Approx­i­mate­ly $27 bn) worth of busi­ness­es have been sold, and the his­toric water busi­ness was split off last year. The Gen­erale des Eaux name has been dis­pensed with, trad­ed in for Vivendi—a name invent­ed by con­sul­tants. With last year’s $34bn acqui­si­tion of Sea­gram, the Cana­di­an group which owned the Uni­ver­sal enter­tain­ment busi­ness­es, Mr. Messier emerged as the chair­man of the world’s sec­ond largest media group. . . . The old water com­pa­ny now touch­es the lives of hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple around the world: Uni­ver­sal Music’s ros­ter of stars includes Abba, Bob Mar­ley and Eminem: Uni­ver­sal’s stu­dios boast such hits as Glad­i­a­tor, The Grinch and out this week is Brid­get Jones’s Diary; Canal Plus is the largest pan-Euro­pean pay-TV group; oth­er busi­ness inter­ests, such as USA Net­works and Viz­za­vi, a joint ven­ture por­tal with Voda­fone, give it access to most of the devel­oped world.” (“Ambi­tious Emper­or Strives to Ride a Nar­row Path” by James Hard­ing and Jo John­son; Finan­cial Times; 4/3/2001; p. 20.)

21. Past For The Record pro­grams have ana­lyzed Vivendi’s sit­u­a­tion and point­ed out that French indus­try and finance were fold­ed into Ger­man con­trol dur­ing the occu­pa­tion in World War II. This sug­gests the dis­tinct pos­si­bil­i­ty that Viven­di, too, may be a Bor­mann com­pa­ny.

22. Viven­di ear­li­er helped to increase the pres­sure on Nap­ster by form­ing the online dis­tri­b­u­tion firm Duet. (“Viven­di and Sony Tight­en the Screws on Nap­ster with Online Music Duet” by Jo John­son and James Hard­ing; Finan­cial Times; 2/23/2001; p. 17.)

23. The remain­der of the broad­cast is devot­ed to cov­er­age of Vivendi’s grow­ing posi­tion in the music world. (Viven­di sub­sidiary Uni­ver­sal Music is the largest music firm in the world.) Viven­di, too, has forged a num­ber of online dis­tri­b­u­tion arrange­ments. (“Yahoo, Uni­ver­sal, SONY Announce Online Music Deal” by Jon Healey; Los Ange­les Times; 4/6/2001; pp.C1-C4.) (“Record Giant Uni­ver­sal Buys Emusic.com” by Ben­ny Evan­ge­lista; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 4/10/2001; pp. C1-C2.)


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