CMU Daily - on the inside Tuesday 26th July

yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- SonyBMG admit to payola
- Bad Beat Revue frontman dies after stage dive goes wrong
- Former Stereophonics drummer confirms pay off
- Universal do video deal with MP3.com
- Joy Zipper download
- Keane back in the studio
- Club Review: Chew The Fat at The End On 22 Jul
- Oasis to headline new Cardiff pre-Xmas fest
- Go Team re-releases and tour
- Prodigy plan new album for 2006
- Doherty and Moss split shocker
- Dylan and Peel added to UK Hall Of Fame
- TuneTribe to make Bestival sets available for download
- Elton not impressed with U2 over charity record snub

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SONYBMG ADMIT TO PAYOLA
So, those previously reported rumours that SonyBMG was about to say "fair cop guvnor" in New York Attorney General's ongoing investigations into payola activities in the US music radio sector proved to be true yesterday, when both the legal man and the major label made formal statements to that effect.

This all relates to the investigation kicked off by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer last year into allegations record labels were bribing US radio execs to get their artists valuable airtime - a practice banned by American media law. At the time the record companies were keen to distance themselves from pay-for-play radio promotion tactics, using words like 'thing of the past' and 'isolated incidents'. However SonyBMG's admission yesterday that some of its employees were guilty of bribing radio execs suggests that, while the prevalence or scale of payola is nothing like it was in the seventies, a lot more of it goes on that many senior industry types have been willing to admit.

Confirming SonyBMG had admitted to using some payola tactics, Spitzer told reporters yesterday: "Our investigation shows that contrary to listener expectations that songs are selected for airplay based on artistic merit and popularity, air time is often determined by undisclosed payments to radio stations and their employees. This agreement is a model for breaking the pervasive influence of bribes in the industry. Aggressive promotion of products is one of the hallmarks of our economy. We expect it and respect it when done creatively and legally. But the efforts outlined [here] clearly crossed the line and must be curtailed".

Among the 'efforts outlined' in Spitzer's report on SonyBMG's radio promotion activity are evidence of the major:

- bankrolling radio station giveaways.
- making payments to radio stations to "cover operational expenses".
- purchasing "spin programmes" - airplay under the guise of advertising.
- making payments to middlemen 'promoters' - suspected to be a cover up for illegal payments to radio stations.
- handing "outright bribes to radio programmers" including expensive gifts and all-expenses-paid holidays.

SonyBMG have said they will act to stop all payola activity undertaken by their employees, and that they will pay a $10 million fine as punishment for the pay-for-play violations they have already committed. Their statement, which closely followed Spitzer's, ran thus: "Despite federal and state laws prohibiting unacknowledged payment by record labels to radio stations for airing of music, such direct and indirect forms of what has been described generically as 'payola' for spins has continued to be an unfortunately prevalent aspect of radio promotion. SonyBMG acknowledges that various employees pursued some radio promotion practices on behalf of the company that were wrong and improper, and apologises for such conduct. SonyBMG looks forward to defining a new, higher standard in radio promotion."

Don Rose, President of the American Association of Independent Music, welcomed SonyBMG's admission and Spitzer's ongoing investigations, pointing out that the independent sector cannot afford to compete once the majors start using expensive bribery to secure airplay. Rose told reporters: "This settlement is important because it sheds light on a process which has traditionally excluded the indie label community. We believe that there will be increased opportunity for our sector as a result. With a level playing field, the airwaves can better reflect the impact of indie labels and artists. We look forward to the development of an environment where great music, regardless of its source, has equal opportunity to be heard."

It remains to be seen what actual moves SonyBMG boss Andrew Lack now makes in order to combat the payola problem (presumably most of the guilty players have ceased their more obvious pay-for-play tactics ever since Spitzer announced his investigation). More importantly, it remains to be seen which of the other major record labels have to follow suit with admissions, commitments and fine payments in order to placate Spitzer.

And, of course, what of the major radio companies who are allegedly accepting these payola payments? US media regulator the FCC issued its own statement yesterday praising (somewhat excessively) Spitzer's investigation, and implying it will be taking action of its own against the bribable radio stations. FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein told reporters: "It's a real tribute to AG Eliot Spitzer that he has blown the lid off a potentially far-reaching payola scandal. I've been expressing concern about this for some time in terms of enforcing our federal rules, but it took someone with Spitzer's tenacity and subpoena power to bring forward solid evidence. We've seen a lot of smoke around payola for a while, but now we know it's coming from a real fire. It's time to dump a bucket of cold water on it. It's unfair to listeners if they hear songs on the radio because someone was paid off, not because it's good music. We need an immediate investigation to determine whether these practices violate federal payola laws. I've asked Mr Spitzer to share all of the evidence that he has uncovered with the FCC."

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BAD BEAT REVUE FRONTMAN DIES AFTER STAGE DIVE GOES WRONG
The lead singer of an up-and-coming indie band has died after an energetic stage performance went wrong during a gig in Leeds.

Patrick Sherry was performing with his band Bad Beat Revue at the regular Club NME night at the Warehouse venue when he made an acrobatic stage dive into his crowd. However he fell during the leap sustaining fatal head and back injuries. He was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary but died the next day. An inquest into his death will open at Leeds Coroner's Court later today.

With the incident occurring at an NME co-promoted night, the magazine's editor, Conor McNicholas, has passed on his condolences to the singer's friends and family. He told reporters: "We are extremely saddened to hear of this tragic accident. Our deepest condolences go out to Patrick's family and friends."

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FORMER STEREOPHONICS DRUMMER CONFIRMS PAY OFF
Former Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable will reportedly receive a six figure pay off as a legal battle with his former bandmates reaches its conclusion.

As previously reported, Cable was dropped from the band in Sep 2003 after taking some time off from a US tour to recover from a minor operation. Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones said that Cable had been dropped because of "commitment issues", but the drummer hit back saying he had only taken time off the tour because his band mates recommended he do so.

He told the press at the time of his sacking: "Kelly and Richard suggested I return to the UK to recuperate for the forthcoming UK and European tours. Richard and Kelly then telephoned me from the US and I was stunned to be told that they had decided to sack me. I still want to continue to be a part of the Stereophonics and play on the band's forthcoming UK and European tours. I am, and have always been, a fully committed member of the Stereophonics and am very upset that Kelly seems to be saying that I was not committed to the band."

Cable was later replaced by Javier Weyler, while he began legal proceedings against his former bandmates. Cable this weekend confirmed that lawyers representing the two sides have now reached a deal, though he wouldn't comment on the rumours he would receive a six figure settlement. Cable told newspaper Wales on Sunday: "We've finally come to some sort if arrangement, but it's still all in the hands of the lawyers at the moment. There's a lot of paperwork to go through so I can't really say anymore."

Cable reportedly celebrated getting a settlement with his former band by playing a gig with a Stereophonics tribute band called Replicaphonix.

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UNIVERSAL DO VIDEO DEAL WITH MP3.COM
Universal continues to do deals with online music video platforms - the latest being the revamped MP3.com.

As previously reported, Universal recently threw a spanner in the works for many of the music websites who offered video-on-demand services by suddenly deciding to charge a per-stream royalty rather than offering a blanket licence. This created Universal a valuable new revenue stream, but considerable increased the costs for the music websites who wanted to offer their customers pop promo videos on demand. Despite initial objections being raised by some of the music websites, once MSN signed up to Universal's new deal the rest had to follow.

The new deal with MP3.com, which is now owned by CNet Networks, will see the music website offer surfers hundreds of videos from Universal's catalogue for free streaming on demand. The specifics of what CNet will pay for that facility are not known. What is known is that the deal includes an exclusive remix video from 50 Cent which MP3.com will also make available. That will tie in with a promotion on sister CNet site GameSpot which will carry an exclusive interview with Fiddy as promotion for his new computer game '50 Cent: Bulletproof'.

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JOY ZIPPER DOWNLOAD
Talking of music online, indie fuzz-poppers Joy Zipper are giving away a free download of one of their album tracks for a limited time. The track - 'Thought's A Waste of Time' comes off 'The Heartlight Set' album and can be downloaded for nowt from the band's website or http://www.7digital.com/downloads/joyzipper

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KEANE BACK IN THE STUDIO
Keane are back in the studio to record the follow up to their undeniably successful debut 'Hopes & Fears'. Apparently the band have been busy creating new material while on tour and now plan to put those down on tape asap. The band's Tim Rice-Oxely told top music journal the Daily Star: "We're going to be in a studio in the countryside so we'll be able to step outside and enjoy the sun."

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CLUB REVIEW: Chew The Fat at The End on 22 Jul
A Chew The Fat night is rarely a disappointment. Even five or so years on from the early events that showcased the budding talents of Adam Freeland and the Plump DJs, founder Paul Arnold is remarkably still championing some of the best breaks jocks in the world, whilst putting on a bloody great shindig. Consistency like this is rare. Tonight, comfortable in their latest London home, The End, residents Paul Arnold and the aptly named Friendly, chew the juicy fat with established guests Elite Force, Tayo, Drumattic Twins and Atomic Hooligan. All talented cornerstones of the genre maybe, but after the familiar, rather off-putting "warm-up" from the reckless Drumattic Twins, it was left to in-house Aussie and all-round good-guy Friendly, to truly loosen the eager crowd and subsequently steal the show. Decent resident DJ's are the foundation of any successful club-night, but in the case of Fat, Friendly makes the club-night. Clubbers flocked onto his dance floor - pogoing to the colossal beats and bass, and roaring through the orgasmic breakdowns. Club hit, 'The Bump & Grind', one of the many mighty Friendly productions fired out, invoked sheer pandemonium. An enthusiastic, creative and endlessly entertaining DJ - honestly, with residents like this who needs guests? OG

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OASIS TO HEADLINE NEW CARDIFF PRE-XMAS FEST
Perhaps miffed that their major tsunami fundraiser back in Jan is likely to be pretty much overlooked in the end-of-year reviews now that the Live 8 shenanigans fill our collective memories (there's only room for one good cause at a time surely), Cardiff's Millennium Stadium have announced a storming end-of-year gig to take place on 10 Dec, though this one isn't in aid of anyone.

To be called Noise and Confusion 05, Oasis are set to headline, with Foo Fighters, Razorlight and The Coral also reportedly on the bill. More names should be added shortly. Tickets go on sale at the end of the week.

A spokesman for the stadium told reporters: "This is already a sensational line-up, and a superb opportunity to stage an annual end of year event in Europe's largest indoor venue."

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GO TEAM RE-RELEASES AND TOUR
If only one band deserve a little mainstream attention as a result of their Mercury Music Prize nomination, surely it's the wonderful Go! Team. In a bid to do just that the band will release the rather fine 'Bottle Rocket' on 26 Sep, and will re-release their nominated album 'Thunder, Lightning, Strike' on 3 Oct. Those releases will be followed by these live dates:

7 Oct: London, Astoria
8 Oct: Glasgow, QMU
9 Oct: Manchester, Academy 2

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PRODIGY PLAN NEW ALBUM FOR 2006
After we had to wait seven years for the Prodigy's return-to-form last album 'Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned', Liam Howlett et al are hopeful they'll turn round their next long player much quicker. Word is a new album will be ready for release by the end of 2006. Meanwhile, the band's greatest hits will be released on 5 Sep.

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DOHERTY AND MOSS SPLIT SHOCKER
More random Doherty nonsense - and it seems Kate Moss has dumped the former Libertine because she says she can't cope with worrying about him all the time, or at least that's what the tabloids are saying.

Apparently things came to a head after a Doherty incident in Camden described to the Mirror by one of the staff at Camden Town's Supersave store - "The singer ran in pursed by six man. There was a big fight. We got them out but they hurled a brick at the door."

The paper say that that incident led to Kate telling friends: "I can't go on spending day and night worrying about Pete. He would disappear without a word and I would not hear from him for days. He has to change his lifestyle. Until that happens we are finished."

So now you know.

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DYLAN AND PEEL ADDED TO UK HALL OF FAME
Bob Dylan and the late great John Peel will be added the UK Music Hall Of Fame this year. Dylan will be one of this year's inductees, while Peel will be awarded honorary membership.

As you'll remember, the UK Hall Of Fame was launched last year, with some artists automatically admitted, others voted in by Channel 4 viewers. Dylan and Peel will join first year inductees The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bob Marley, Elvis Presley, Queen, Cliff Richard & The Shadows, The Rolling Stones, U2, Robbie Williams and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.

A panel of over sixty music bods will pick which other music lovelies should also be inducted this year. Channel 4 will screen a series of programmes around whoever they choose, climaxing in a live show when each of the new inductees will be, erm, inducted.

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TUNETRIBE TO MAKE BESTIVAL SETS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD
Bestival have teamed up with independent download platform TuneTribe to make sets from the 2005 festival available for download shortly after the event. Artists whose live sets are likely to be available include Super Furry Animals, Royksopp, Saint Etienne, Magic Numbers, Grand National, Erol Alkan, XPress-2 and 2 Many DJ's, plus there'll even be an exclusive download only Bestival album compiled by Sunday Best main man Rob da Bank. The tracks will appear shortly after Bestival, which takes place on the Isle Of Wight from 9-11 Sep.

TuneTribe, of course, is no stranger to making live music available via their download platform. Although the new download service officially launches this week, throughout their pilot period they have been making live sets recorded at the wonderful Kill All Hippies available to download less than 24 hours after the bands have graced the KAH stage.

Commenting on the partnership between Bestival and TuneTribe, Rob da Bank told CMU: "TuneTribe is a real breakthrough for the download generation. The fact that they are supporting independent label culture is a winner for me. I've signed up Sunday Best Recordings and we are really excited about streaming sets from our festival Bestival. It's great that we can offer this service to festival goers and artists too!"

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ELTON NOT IMPRESSED WITH U2 OVER CHARITY RECORD SNUB
Elton John is reportedly enraged with U2 for not participating in a charity album he is planning, although if we believed the tabloids Elton would be constantly enraged about something.

Anyway, the Sunday Mirror say that Elton wanted to include a version of U2's 'New Year's Day' on an album he is releasing in aid of his Aids Foundation, but that representatives for Bono et al refused to get involved. A 'source' told the paper: "Elton is livid. He can't believe U2 refused to give permission to use New Year's Day. He thinks it's really bad form. Bono was one of the main protagonists for Live 8 and the Make Poverty History campaign which Elton was happy to do because it was such a brilliant cause. So you can imagine he was amazed - and a little let down to say the least."

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