DIGITAL downloads decimating album sales, Russian born tycoon Len Blavatnik poised to swoop on the UK’s last major domestic music label – it’s fair to say the music industry has seen better days.

Here to help the sector’s financially challenged artistes make the most of their remaining revenue sources – touring, merchandise and ticket sales – is currency millionaire Peter Ellis, who is helping bands such as Thin Lizzy beat the banks on their forex transactions.

Ellis, who made his £50m fortune by founding Foreign Currencies Direct, credits Planet Rock investor Malcolm Bluemel with alerting him to the “large volumes of forex traded in the music business”. “It is about getting the most out of the markets,” Ellis told The Capitalist on his “competitive exchange rates” that save rock bands up to 20 per cent on each transaction.

Ellis also has Bluemel to thank for asking The Doors’ bassist Phil Chen to authenticate the handwritten lyrics to Break On Through that he bought for £600 without knowing if they were genuine. Turns out they were – a £15,000 bonus for the City’s biggest music fan.

OR SHOULD that be the City’s second biggest music fan? Paul Pacifico, who left Investec to focus on his session musician firm Specific Music and his band Pacifico Blues, must come a close second.

Pacifico last night gave the City the chance to be in his band “without the commitment” at the sold-out Gibson City Blues Jam at Boisdale of Canary Wharf, where bankers from BGC Partners, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Barclays Capital played alongside Pacifico Blues in the first of what promises to become a monthly event.
One for the A&R men to keep an eye on is Urban Society, the band formed by UBS Investment Bank’s capital markets head Cesar Gueikian with his colleagues Anton Alvarez and Nat Zilkha, who rattled out their greatest hits as Pacifico played blues harmonica.

CANTEEN food prices have been curbed and a McDonald’s-style Employee of the Month scheme has been introduced at the Bank of England in an attempt to distract staff from the fact their salaries have been frozen until 2013.

But no amount of morale-boosting incentives can stop the exodus of economics talent at the Bank, which has just been notified that Simon Wells, a star operator in Spencer Dale’s monetary analysis division, is off to join the research team at HSBC Holdings.
It’s not the first time HSBC has poached from the Bank, having attracted officials John Butler and Karen Ward in previous years, while Goldman Sachs lured Andrew Benito to the more generously remunerated private sector only this June. Money, as they say, talks.

SIZE ISN’T everything, says the Tory MP-turned Telegraph Media Group executive chairman Lord Black of Brentwood.

He means marketing budgets, of course, speaking as lead judge of the advertising industry’s annual IPA Effectiveness Awards, which this year scaled back the budget of the campaigns entered to £2.5m to reflect the mayhem in capital markets.

“The industry continues to deliver fantastic results in spite of continuing pressure on budgets,” said Black as he awarded the evening’s star prize to an ad that showed “profound insight” by encouraging Colombian terrorists to lay down their arms.