CMU Weekly Editor's Letter

Editor’s Letter: The Great Escape is coming. Who’s excited?

By | Published on Friday 27 January 2012

Andy Malt

Hello. How has your week been? I hope it’s been as good as mine, because mine’s been brilliant. Even after I factor in suffering with a cold for much of it. Firstly, there was lots of news to write about (which is the benchmark for any good week), and then last night I saw Giana Factory and Philco Fiction perform at monthly Nordic music showcase Ja Ja Ja.

And this morning I learned of the existence of a place in Warwickshire called Bishop’s Itchington. And it would have been a great week with just that one on its own.

Also, I was finally allowed to tell people about something I’ve been excited about for weeks. Because this week we made our first announcement about this year’s Great Escape music business convention in Brighton, which I’m sure you know by now is programmed by the team here at CMU.

This year, Xfm is celebrating its 20th year on air, having first launched with a series of month-long RSL broadcasts in 1992, before launching fully in 1997. As part of this, the station’s longest serving DJ, John Kennedy, will be interviewed on stage at TGE by fellow radio presenter Jon Hillcock about his 22 years supporting new bands on the radio, and his thirteen years fronting Xfm’s ‘X-posure’ show.

Anyone with an interest in new music knows who John Kennedy is, and most likely feels inadequate next to him. He listens to an enormous amount of music every week, programming twelve hours of radio on ‘X-posure’ each week, and regularly unearths artists who go on to find fame – Adele, The xx and Kate Nash are just a few artists whose demos he’s played before anyone else. His enthusiasm for music is both infectious and inspiring, and he’s a thoroughly lovely person as well.

Also thoroughly lovely and completely dedicated to promoting new music is Jon Hillcock, who started his career in radio when he did work experience on ‘X-posure’. He’s gone on to present his own shows on Xfm and NME Radio, and these days regularly appears on BBC 6music, as well as producing his weekly ‘New Noise’ podcast, which is essential listening.

I hope this doesn’t come across too much as cynical plugging of something I’m involved in. Obviously I’m mentioning it partly because of CMU’s involvement in The Great Escape, but I am completely genuine when I say that I think John Kennedy and Jon Hillcock are two of the best presenters on radio today, and to have them sat on stage talking to each other is a very exciting prospect. And, as I said, being barred from telling everyone I see about all this prior to the official announcement this week has been killing me.

You can find more information on this and the rest of our announcement earlier this week here, or you could just head over to and buy your tickets (which also gets you access to shows by more 300 bands over the course of three days, as well as the entire conference).

Andy Malt
Editor, CMU

On this week’s podcast, we discuss the MegaUpload shutdown and arrests, the passing of the Live Music Bill through the House Of Commons, a little bit of silver lining for HMV, Simon Cowell’s DJ search, and Disney’s Joy Division inspired t-shirt. You should listen to it, for sure. You will be able to do just that this weekend here.

It has been a fantastically busy week in the world of MegaUpload. After the site was shut down last week and several of its execs arrested, the drama has continued. The company quickly hired a top lawyer – who has previously represented the likes of Bill Clinton and Enron – but just as quickly he pulled out citing a conflict of interests. Whether he would have been able to get Mega founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz out of prison on bail we’ll never know, but Dotcom is still locked up, amid fears he would escape New Zealand back to his home country Germany where extradition would be more difficult.

Perhaps more interesting was the reaction from other file-transfer sites, some of whom limited their services and deleted unlicensed content. Whether the Mega shutdown was pushing users to legitimate sites or over to other illegal services that carried on as normal is in dispute (it’s probably a bit of both), meanwhile an unlikely conspiracy theory that plans by MegaUpload to launch a direct-to-fan service for artists had prompted the entertainment industries to push for last week’s shutdown was put about too. For more on the goings on with the MegaUpload team this week, look here.

With SOPA and PIPA seemingly put on the back burner, another important anti-piracy document, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, was signed by most European Union countries with little opposition this week. However, while the EU itself helped negotiate the agreement and signed it, the European Parliament is still to approve it, and there are growing attempts to rally larger protests against it.

Elsewhere in digital news, the Digital Music News blog responded to Grooveshark‘s attempt to force it to hand over information about an alleged whistleblower, failed digital music service Beyond Oblivion applied for bankruptcy protection admitting to debts of anything up to $500 million, Rhapsody formally took over Napster in Europe, Perfume Genius had an advert rejected by YouTube because it found two men standing still to be a bit too racy, and the IFPI said digital music revenues are growing but piracy is still an issue.

The Live Music Bill was passed by the House Of Commons last Friday, with some final amendments approved by the House Of Lords earlier today, which is good news for people who like small gigs, because the hope is there will now be more of them. The Local Government Association welcomed the passing of the Bill, which they had originally opposed, but then backed following some tweaks made last Autumn, though they said they still have one concern about gigs where audience members can bring their own alchohol.

As well as that, HMV announced new deals with its suppliers and the bank, Mick Jagger got angry about being drawn into politics, Tulisa Contostavlos’ arm was allowed to continue waving, Radio 1 announced new multi-media aspects to its chart show, Truck Festival announced it will return this year after financial problems in 2011, Simon Cowell revealed he’s on the look out for DJs, and Disney stopped selling a Joy Division-inspired t-shirt.

I interviewed Busdriver this week, which was very exciting as his album ‘Fear Of A Black Tangent’ is one of my favourites. I managed to play it cool and not ask “WHY ARE YOU SO AWESOME?” though. As well as that, Eddy Temple-Morris wrote about last week’s interviewees Enter Shikari and how he came to love them. Plus, Pulled Apart By Horses put together a great playlist for us.

In the Approved column this week we had a new track by Miike Snow featuring Lykke Li, a song from Frankie Rose‘s utterly brilliant new album, two tracks from Jesse Ruins‘ new EP, and some cinematic loveliness from A Whisper In The Noise.

Elsewhere on, we posted a whole load more new music, including tracks by Cypress Hill and Rusko, Saint Etienne, Ladyhawke, Blood Red Shoes, Fair Ohs, The Icarus Line, Sea Of Bees, Poli├ža, The Doors and Skrillex (you don’t have to click on that one), plus a sampler from Portishead man Geoff Barrow’s label.