CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 25th May

yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Leno and Tucker testify: Jacko trial update
- EMI confirm profits fall
- Crazy frog outselling Coldplay
- Album Review: Chris Coco - Heavy Mellow
- Kasabian to write world cup song
- Scissor Sisters deny last minute Glastonbury billing
- Squire says Roses should play Glastonbury
- Perverts join Brown in forest
- More acts added to Meltdown line up
- Happy Mondays headline K Fest
- Ordinary Boys to play at Wakestock Fest
- Bugged Out Sucks My Deck
- Single Review: Johnathan Rice - Behind The Frontlines
- Garageband launches podcasting kit
- Polydor moving house
- Wall Street firm set out Warner concerns
- BBC and unions to go to ACAS for talks
- Littlejohn moves to Mail
- Album Review: Belle And Sebastian - Push Barman To Open Old Wounds
- More dissing of Yahoo's cut price download platform
- Winamp for your iPod
- Coldplay pre-order in US and Canada only
- Kylie and Olivier baby talk
- Girl Aloud raises handbag

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LENO AND TUCKER TESTIFY: JACKO TRIAL UPDATE
Another celeb witness took to the stand at the ongoing Michael Jackson trial yesterday, which was good news for celeb-hungry bystanders, but not completely good news for Jacko's defence team. As expected, chat show host Jay Leno was called to the witness stand to outline his connection with the family of Jackson's current accuser, Gavin Arvizo. He told the court that he had been suspicious of Gavin when he had spoken to him on the phone, but he said that the family had never actually asked him for money - which ran contrary to what the defence implied he would say.

Leno's testimony might provide some substance to defence allegations that Gavin Arvizo, then suffering from cancer, was put up to guilting celebs by his mother, with the ultimate aim of getting cash out of them. Leno said that he found voicemail messages and subsequent conversations with Gavin rather odd, and "very scripted", adding he sometimes heard a woman's voice in the background. Leno became particularly suspicious when Gavin described Leno as his hero: "It sounded suspicious when a young person got overly effusive. It just didn't click with me. I'm not Batman. It seemed a little unusual."

However the defence suggested that Leno got so concerned that he contacted the police about the Arvizos. However the chat show host, who had ridiculed Jackson on his TV show throughout the trial, and who is reported to have said he thinks Jacko is guilty, said he only told police about the conversations when they contacted him, and that the Arvizo family had never actually tapped him for cash.

The defence's next witness proved more useful, though she lacked the celebrity status. Mary Holzer was a legal assistant at the law firm who represented the Arvizo family in that previously reported lawsuit against retailer JC Penny (when Mrs Arvizo claimed she had been molested by a security guard). Holzer said that Arvizo admitted injuries she claimed in court that she had received from the guards at the store were actually from a beating her (now ex) husband had given her. Holzer says that she advised Mrs Arvizo it would be illegal to lie under oath - Arvizo reportedly responded to that advice by threatening to have Holzer and her nine year old daughter killed.

Next up, another celebrity witness, hurrah. Actor and comedian Chris Tucker told the court he had learned about Gavin Arvizo's illness after meeting his father at a comedy club. He took part in a benefit event for Gavin and, when he heard the benefit had not made any money, donated "probably $1,500 or more" to a foundation for the family. Asked if he believed that money was for medical expenses, Tucker said: "I was hoping it was for that".

Tucker's testimony will continue today, after which the defence is expected to round up its case, which is very bad news. As previously reported, Jacko's defence team have decided to reduce their number of witnesses because they believe they are winning the case. Which means no Liz Taylor, no Liza Minelli, no Diana Ross, no Stevie Wonder. Life can be very unkind.

The case continues - though not for much longer.

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EMI CONFIRM PROFITS FALL
No surprises here. EMI confirmed yesterday that it suffered a 13% fall in profits in the financial year to the end of Mar 2005 - end of year profits were £141.9 million (GBP), down from £163.3million the previous year. The company say that they were hit partly by the continuing challenges faced by the wider music industry but admitted they had suffered particularly badly (decline across the wider industry was just 1% last year) because major releases from Coldplay and Gorillaz were pushed back into the next financial year. Yesterday's announcement did not come as a surprise of course because the label was merely confirming what they said in an earlier profits warning issued back in Feb.

As previously reported, Coldplay's Chris Martin recently expressed his sadness that delays in completing his band's new album might have affected EMI's profits and share price, telling reporters: "I don't really care about EMI. I'm not really concerned about that. I think shareholders are the great evil of this modern world." To which EMI bosses said: "Watch it Martin, you're no crazy frog you know, one poor selling album and we'll drop you like a Mariah Carey".

Anyway, back to the financials, and if you must find a silver lining in EMI's figures for the last year it was the growth in digital music sales, which increased from £15.1 million the previous year to £49.7 million last year. That means the sales of digital music now account for 2.5% of overall sales which, EMI bosses say, is a good sign for the future of the company in the digital age. Chairman Eric Nicoli told shareholders: "We remain confident that digital music will drive the industry forward at attractive growth rates in the coming years".

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CRAZY FROG OUTSELLING COLDPLAY
And talking of which, the Crazy Frog version of 'Axel F' is currently outselling Coldplay's new single 'Speed Of Sound' by a margin of three to one (four to one according to some reports).

The Crazy Frog song, of course, takes the irritating voice of the famous ring tone character and drops it onto the Beverly Hills Cop theme. If I remember rightly former Radio 1 DJ Wes Butters is behind the project, which means he is maintaining his role of making the UK Top 40 very very tedious even though he's been axed from Radio 1's weekly countdown show.

The news that the Crazy Frog song is selling so well is no surprise of course, though it does put me in the highly unusual position of having to desperately urge everyone I know to buy a Coldplay single.

Commenting on the mid-week sales figures, HMV's Gennaro Castaldo told reporters: "Music purists might not be too happy at the prospect of the Crazy Frog outselling Coldplay, but it shouldn't come as that much of a surprise when you consider its huge novelty appeal and the massive amount of exposure it's currently getting. Kids obviously find it cute and cool, but students and even office workers seem to be drawn to its rather kitsch, ironic appeal. The only real issue is whether the record label can press enough copies to keep up with the huge demand that we're seeing right now."

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ALBUM REVIEW: Chris Coco - Heavy Mellow (Distinctive)
If anyone out there doesn't know this, Chris Coco used to edit Mixmag. He was subsequently heard to quip that dance music was boring, and that chill out music was the way forward. These days of course he is hosting Radio 1 chill out show The Blue Room. I'm not sure I agree with him on the 'chill over dance' philosophy, but on this album he has fittingly and lovingly crafted some quality chill, and from the swirling ambient of 'Searching For The Balearic Heartbeat' to the happy dippy 'Time to Love', he certainly wins us over. Among other highlights are the title track 'Heavy Mellow', which is great; and 'Memory Of A Free Party' which features a harder backdrop and a yank on acid reciting his experiences; but the eastern edged 'Rokka' is my favourite. There were a couple of tracks that didn't work so well for me, but ultimately Coco more than rises to the occasion in delivering a brilliantly chilled out mix. PV
Release date: 23 May
Press contact: Trailer Media [all]

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KASABIAN TO WRITE WORLD CUP SONG
The Sun claims that Kasabian are to write and record England's official 2006 World Cup song after being talked into it Sky sports presenter Tim Lovejoy. A 'source' said: "Tim is good mates with [band members] Serge and Tom and they had joked about doing the song in the past. It was mentioned again recently and this time they decided to go for it. The FA have given the plan the green light so the idea is now up and running."

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SCISSOR SISTERS DENY LAST MINUTE GLASTONBURY BILLING
Scissor Sisters have ruled themselves out as headliners for next months Glastonbury Festival. Rumours had been rife that the band would take the Sunday headline slot after Kylie Minogue was forced to pull out after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

However the band yesterday issued a statement denying those rumours. The band said: "As much as we'd like to, it's sadly not going to happen. Don't believe what you read in the papers." Meanwhile Glastonbury organisers confirmed to NME that Scissor Sisters had not been approached regarding this year's event.

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SQUIRE SAYS ROSES SHOULD PLAY GLASTONBURY
Meanwhile, Stone Roses guitarist John Squire has told Time Out that he would like to get the band back together and that they could do it in time for Glastonbury. In an interview with the London listings mag he said "The plan is to make a ferocious guitar record on my own. And then put the Roses back together. Kylie's pulled out hasn't she? Maybe we should do it."

Noel Gallagher also recently talked of a Roses reunion to Manchester's City Life magazine, saying "It's only a matter of time. They've got unfinished business, but they'd be idiots if they didn't. Mani would at the drop of a hat; Ian and John have got issues, but they can be worked out. It's Reni that's the key." Drummer Reni left the group in 1995, prior to the band's 1996 split.

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PERVERTS JOIN BROWN IN FOREST
And in related news, DJ collective Scratch Perverts are to appear as special guests at Ian Brown's upcoming forest gigs. As previously reported, the former Stone Rose is to play in Thetford Forest in Suffolk on 16 Jul and at Delamere Forest in Cheshire on 23 Jul. Other acts appearing in the forest this year are The Beautiful South, Madness, Jools Holland, and Daniel Bedingfield. More info from http://www.forestry.gov.uk/music

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MORE ACTS ADDED TO MELTDOWN LINE UP
More names have been confirmed to take part in the this year's Patti Smith curated Meltdown Festival. Libertines producer, Clash man Mick Jones is to play with new band Carbon/Silicon, followed by a late night performance from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, at the Royal Festival Hall on 17 Jun and poets John Giorno and Janet Hamill will appear at the Purcell Room on 21 Jun. As previously reported, the festival takes place from 11 - 26 Jun, and the programme includes events featuring contributions from Billy Bragg, Antony And The Johnsons, Mark Almond, Tori Amos, Marianne Faithfull, Yoko Ono and Sinead O'Connor. Find all the details at http://www.rfh.org.uk/meltdown.

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HAPPY MONDAYS HEADLINE K FEST
The Happy Mondays are to headline the K festival in Cornwall this summer, joining previously announced acts such as The Magic Numbers and The Black Velvets. Ian Whittaker, one of the festival's organisers said: "We've been working hard to get a huge name and The Happy Mondays certainly won't disappoint. They've got such as massive appeal to a huge range of people and will, without a doubt, deliver a thundering performance on the day. There's lots of new British bands touring this year and we wanted to get a massive headliner with solid rock credentials for the K-Festival. We pulled it off last year with the Fun Lovin' Criminals and are delighted that we're going to do it again this year. All of the supporting acts plus the Jellyjazz Dance Stage will give people a unique opportunity to sample an immense amount of different beats and sounds from Cornwall and further afield. There's loads more to come and we'll have more supporting acts and additional festival activities to confirm in the next few weeks so the momentum's only going to keep growing."

The event takes place on 23 Jul at St Minver, Polzeath. Limited info (more coming soon) at http://www.thekfestival.com/

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ORDINARY BOYS TO PLAY AT WAKESTOCK FEST
More festival news then. We've got festivals coming out of our ears. Ouch. That would be painful. Anyway, The Ordinary Boys have been confirmed to play at this year's Wakestock festival, replacing Hard-fi, who have been forced to cancel. They join acts such as The Undertones, Hundred Reasons, Million Dead and Thirteen Senses as well as DJs Layo & Bushwacka, Seb Fontaine and Jon Carter. The festival takes place at Abersoch Bay from 22 - 23 Jul. More info from http://www.wakestock.co.uk/

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BUGGED OUT SUCKS MY DECK
We loved Erol Alkan's Bugged In / Bugged Out mix album, so we're more than pleased that the same label will shortly release 'Bugged Out Presents - Suck My Deck' mixed by Damian Lazarus, a second edition in a DJ series that kicked off last summer with an Ivan Smagghe mix. The album is packed full of tracks by cutting edge Bugged Out! regulars, including exclusives from Freaks and James Holden as well as tracks from Issakidis and M83. It's out on 6 Jun. Lovely.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Johnathan Rice - Behind The Frontlines (SonyBMG)
Johnathan Rice was advised to change his name by his record company who thought he would be confused with Damien Rice especially as both artists are sensitive singer songwriter types. 21 year old Johnathan has a warm, earthy voice that suits this gentle acoustic number, the first single to be taken from his upcoming debut album. The Scottish-American singer might not be very well known just now but he's making a name for himself in the US, having already been given the nod from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. His profile will increase dramatically once he's seen in the forthcoming biopic of Johnny Cash in which he plays Roy Orbison, and it won't hurt that he's also currently dating Rilo Kiley vocalist Jenny Lewis. If he gets even a fraction of the radio play that the other Mr Rice has had Johnathan should do very well indeed. JW
Release date: 23 May
Press contact: SonyBMG IH [CP, RP, NP] Anglo [CR, RR, NR]

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GARAGEBAND LAUNCHES PODCASTING KIT
Artist website GarageBand is offering a 'podcast studio' which will help artists and music fans to upload, mix and publish material in a 'podcast format'. We're not quite sure what that means, because the phrase podcasting has been used to describe a number of different kinds of content delivery mechanics, from simply making radio shows available to download as MP3s through to the 'automatic delivery of audio content to a designated media play utilising an RSS feed capable of delivering enclosures' (hey, we know our technical stuff round here you know).

As previously reported, podcasting is the buzz word of the moment, with Apple boss Steve Jobs saying he plans to add new components to a future release of iTunes to make podcasting more accessible. A number of broadcasters and media companies have or are about to jump on the podcasting bandwagons, and knowing how much we love bandwagon jumping round here, needless to say CMU is about to make that leap too. An audio version of the CMU Daily delivered as a podcast? Surely not. Watch this space.

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POLYDOR MOVING HOUSE
Polydor is moving homes, which means more lunchtime shopping, but less sun bathing in Ravenscourt Park. The Universal's division will be shut from tomorrow until Tuesday while the label's staff move to new offices on Kensington High Street. Adjust your address books thus:

Polydor, 364-366 Kensington High Street, London, W14 8NS, tel: 020 7471 5400

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WALL STREET FIRM SET OUT WARNER CONCERNS
Wall Street firm Fulcrum Global Partners has issued a report that sets out its concerns regarding the running of the Warner Music Group. Fulcrum were one of the investment companies who raised concerns about the major label ahead of its share sale earlier this month - concerns which, arguably, contributed to the disappointing performance of Warner Music shares at the initial flotation.

The new report, called 'WMG: Key Issues That Are Holding Us Back', sets out six areas of concern the company has with Warner Music's financial reporting and planning. They claim Warner has been issuing confusing financial statements, that it is not clear what management meant when they said there was "an increase in physical revenues by our independent distribution company", and that it wasn't clear if the EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) for the second quarter this year "excluded cost savings". They say they are also concerned by a lack of working capital, about inconsistencies between US and non-US growth and the possible impact of low-priced digital subscription services. So that's all very clear then.

In conclusion Fulcrum say they think the share price set after the flotation (somewhat less than Warner had originally hoped) is fair, but add that "the six concerns/issues mentioned in our report above, combined with the continued weakness in the US physical music industry, reduce our confidence in the sustainability of EBITDA and Free Cash Flow going forward. In turn, we are initiating with a NEUTRAL rating on WMG shares. We plan to revisit our rating after WMG emerges from the quiet period and hopefully provides answers to the questions raised in our report."

Warner are yet to formally comment on Fulcrum's report, or the disappointing share sale.

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BBC AND UNIONS TO GO TO ACAS FOR TALKS
The BBC and pesky union officials will meet at ACAS tomorrow to see if they can reach some sort of deal in order to stop forthcoming strike action - a 48 hour stoppage is expected next week. As previously reported, unions representing employees at the Beeb oppose plans by BBC bosses to cut 4000 jobs. Unions have been in a very good mood since Monday's strike after a number of key BBC shows were cut because of the number of employees who joined the walk out. However BBC boss Mark Thompson hasn't shown too many signs of being up to negotiate - saying the loss of programmes to strike action was a "price worth paying" for a properly reformed sustainable BBC. It's unclear whether ACAS talks will help resolve the dispute - neither side has said a great deal about the talks except that they expect them to be long and grueling.

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LITTLEJOHN MOVES TO MAIL
Irritating columnist Richard Littlejohn has quit the Sun after seven years of pissing off rational people to return to his 'spiritual home' - the Daily Mail. Lucky Daily Mail readers.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Belle and Sebastian - Push Barman To Open Old Wounds (Jeepster)
In the late 1990s, while the British indie community was still nursing the hangover of Britpop, a new wave of bands emerged in Scotland, including The Delgados, Mull Historical Society and Arab Strap. However, the most important and successful of these bands are Belle and Sebastian, who for a decade have enjoyed a very idiosyncratic and unpredictable career, which seems to continue going from strength to strength. This double album compiles the singles recorded from 1997-2001 chronologically, none of which have appeared on any of the band's albums, which is certainly unique and contrary to conventional wisdom in the music industry. Upon their arrival, similarities were evident between Belle and Sebastian and the Scottish bands that had emerged from the Postcard label in the early 1980s; literary young men (and women) living in dull suburbia, but dreaming of a more bohemian lifestyle. But it wasn't just the image of the band, their sound had plenty in common with the likes of Orange Juice - crossing the boundaries between folk and guitar pop, but adding a definite Scottish stamp to it. Whilst Belle and Sebastian could never be described as the most diverse or innovative of bands (though 'Dear Catastrophe Waitress', their previous album, proved a real step forward), there's no disputing their song writing gifts or their importance in the contemporary music scene. They've managed to cultivate a strong and loyal fan base, which notably contributed to their shock Brit Award in 1998 for 'Best Newcomer', and also their recent topping of a poll in 'The List', to discover Scotland's finest ever band. This compilation has numerous highlights; the likes of 'The State I Am In' and 'Lazy Line Painter Jane' showcase the band's more lo-fi underground sound, whereas 'Legal Man' (a top twenty single) and 'I'm Waking Up To Us' demonstrate the band's shift towards writing more accessible pop songs with a more 1960s/1970s feel, and they sound all the better for it. Whilst the band remain in the studio recording their next album, this record will be a welcome release, and will serve as a reminder of how essential and valuable a band they are. KW
Release date: 23 May
Press contact: Wild [CP, CR] APB [RP] Best [NP] Anglo [CR, RR, NR]

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MORE DISSING OF YAHOO'S CUT PRICE DOWNLOAD PLATFORM
More commentary from the key download platform players about Yahoo's entry into the market with a cut price subscription model. Both Napster and Real have said they do not expect to be drawn into a price war despite Yahoo's cost cutting tactics, stressing their membership services offer enough of a premium to demand a higher subscription fee.

Napster boss Chris Gorog has again dissed the impact Yahoo will have on this service while discussing his company's new Napstertones ringtones service, which has been performing very well since it debuted in the US on 9 May. Gorog: "Napster continues to prove the enduring strength of its brand and the appeal of its music subscription service. Napstertones is off to one of the most successful ringtone debuts ever and the recent introduction of a new competitor's deep discount music subscription service has had no impact on Napster's growth or retention."

Meanwhile Apple boss Steve Jobs, speaking at this weeks All Things Digital conference in the US, says his team have started a company pool on how long Yahoo can maintain its rock bottom prices. The apple boss says his money is on five months.

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WINAMP FOR YOUR IPOD
The geeks out there are bigging up a new plug-in for the Winamp digital jukebox which makes the AOL owned media player a "better way to manage an iPod" than Apple's iTunes. The plug in, called ml_iPod, allows iPod users to manage their iPod music collection without using Apple's official platform (or seeing Apple's music store marketing).

One of the IT people behind the new plug in, Will Fisher, told reporters: "A lot of the feedback I get is people thanking me for freeing them from iTunes. It shows the dissatisfaction people have with iTunes. ITunes takes up a lot of resources on the computer. Winamp is a lot faster. And a lot of our users are still using Windows 98, which iTunes doesn't work on."

Apple are yet to comment on the plug in. They may well turn to AOL to ask them to stop the distribution of the plug in, as Napster et al did when it was revealed another Winamp plug in could be used make digital recordings of tracks played via their subscription model download platforms (and therefore allowing people to access digital recordings of tracks without renewing their Napster subscription).

AOL can stop the official sanctioning of any plug-ins, though they can't stop the unofficial distribution through IT message boards and online communities. As previously reported, Winamp has been very good at maintaining its anti-corporate user friendly approach despite now being owned by one of the web's biggest conglomerates.

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COLDPLAY PRE-ORDER IN US AND CANADA ONLY
With iTunes and Coldplay both getting a mention in today's Daily, it seems appropriate to return to the story reported on in Monday's edition about Coldplay fans being able to pre-order copies of new album 'X&Y' on iTunes. EMI would like to point out this facility is only available to iTunes users in US and Canada. Happy to clarify.

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KYLIE AND OLIVIER BABY TALK
The Mirror claims that Olivier Martinez says that he and Kylie were going to try for a baby this summer, although they're claiming it on the basis of their interpretation of what a friend said Olivier said. If you follow. So there's no real reason why this story should be any truer than the reports that Martinez had asked Kylie to marry him just post surgery. Anyway, according to the tabloid, friends say the actor said: "We were going to start working on it after the tour was over. Now it will be put off. Not for ever, we pray and hope, but for the time being. I love Kylie. With all my heart I love her. And we would both love a child." His brother Vincent also apparently said: "The real blow to them is not so much the cancer itself. It's that they have to put off trying for a baby."

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GIRL ALOUD RAISES HANDBAG
Sarah Harding, the blonde one from Girls Aloud, has been slagging off her ex Calum Best and needless celeb Abi Titmuss for appearing on that Celebrity Love Island thing. "They are a pair of slags. They would not be on that programme if they weren't that sort of person. They're obviously pretty low to do it," she said, adding: "They'll never be a couple because they're too fucking busy sleeping around." Ooohh. Get her.

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