CMU Daily - on the inside Tuesday 31st January
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- HMV confirm takeover interest
- Doherty has a charge dropped
- Former Rollers deny drug dealing
- Steely Dan Fagen to release final bit of trilogy
- Morrissey: interviews, support
- Hard-Fi announce UK tour
- Boy Kill Boy instore, etc
- Charlatans, album, tour
- The Kooks announce tour dates
- That Monkey band announce tour
- Sugababes cover Arctic Monkeys
- Cocker praises Monkeys
- Single review: The Television Personalities - All The Young Children...
- Pink Floyd not to play Albert Hall, OK?
- Kanye West to appear at Superbowl
- Hawtin provides Olympic theme
- Students v bands five a side thing
- Scottish bands team up for charity
- EPM announce ringtone deal
- Warner enter ringtones deal with web phone company
- Belgian phone company move out of download sales
- Consumer groups express iTunes concerns
- Single review: Colder - To The Music
- Shocking McFly split rumours
- James Blunt whacks intruder with award


I'm guessing there are people all over this here music business currently analysing just how it was that the Arctic Monkeys seemed to come from nowhere, storming in at the top of the charts with the fastest selling debut album in UK chart history. The fact they built a significant fanbase through a MySpace page, and by making their demos available for free via download, has been much documented in recent weeks. The question now, I guess, is can a similar strategy be used to break other new bands? Is this how new talent will reach the masses in this grand digital age? Jarvis Cocker reckons no - he says that Arctic Monkeys got where they are not because of clever marketing, but because they make quality music. There is an element of truth in what he says, of course, but as we all know - there's a lot of quality music out there that never reaches the mainstream. Which is why it is unwise to downplay the marketers in this business. Yep, it is possible to sell crap music through clever marketing. Yep, it is possible to sell good music without any marketing. But things work best when the two are properly aligned - good music well marketed. There's a weird contradiction in this digital age. On one level the old gatekeepers of the music industry - the labels and media - have lost their hold because the internet allows bands to reach and connect with music fans directly. But then on another level, so many bands are sticking their music up on MySpace pages and websites it's impossible for the average music fan to navigate - so labels and media become even more important, not as gatekeepers, but as map readers. That said, before anyone spends too much time analysing the marketing approach behind the Arctic Monkeys, let's not forget many of the biggest names in music history came from nowhere, more often than not for not entirely explicable reasons. Why did Robbie Williams' dying career suddenly boom when album track 'Angel' was released as a single? Why did James Blunt suddenly become one of the hottest properties months after his album had been released? And how did the Arctic Monkeys manage to become so successful, mainly thanks to articles in newspapers asking how the Arctic Monkeys had managed to become so successful? If you do figure it out, do give us a call. By the end of the year, we'll be millionaires.


HMV told the London Stock Exchange yesterday that it had been approached by a potential buyer regarding acquisition, although it would not reveal who the takeover bid came from. A statement from the company said: "The board of HMV confirms that it has received a preliminary approach from a third party which may or may not lead to an offer being made for the company".

That statement followed speculation in the weekend press that private equity firm Permira were about to make a bid for the company. However, they have refused to confirm or deny those rumours, and US media have also suggested American investment firms KKR and Blackstone are also considering an offer.

Takeover talk at HMV follows that previously reported admission earlier this month that the company's financial performance in the last year had been disappointing. The group's CEO Alan Giles announced he would stand down at the end of the year, and several senior executives left the company. It is unclear what any takeover would mean for the retailer, which has stores in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the Asia Pacific region, as well as owning Britain's leading bookseller Waterstones.


Just the one, though, so he's not happily skipping through the streets of London as you read this, so don't worry.

Yep, Pete Doherty has had one of the current charges against him dropped due to lack of evidence. It's the charge of driving under the influence of drugs, and related to that previously reported arrest on 18 Dec last year, when he was stopped by police whilst driving a blue Vauxhall at 9.20am in the morning.

According to the prosecution, four passengers fled the scene (splitters) leaving poor old Doherty, of course, left to be searched by officers. He was then taken to Stoke Newington police station where he was questioned for six hours. The charge was dropped because there was insufficient evidence to prove that it was definitely Doherty who was actually driving the car. And let's face it, he probably couldn't remember.

Prosecutor Mark Tavender told the court: "This is an allegation of driving while unfit. The Crown believes there is not sufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Doherty was driving. The vehicle had four passengers, they all decamped from the vehicle. The keys found on Mr Doherty did not fit the vehicle in question."

Doherty, unsurprisingly, did not make the hearing, although surprisingly, on this occasion it was not his fault. An administrative error meant that he was not brought to the court for the proceedings, but left in his cell at Pentonville, where he is on remand awaiting sentencing on 8 Feb. Let's hope the judge in that case doesn't hear the rumours that Doherty gave him the finger whilst in court last week. It's reported that the singer employed the use of a middle-finger-gesture when judge Steven Hawson wasn't looking, shortly after refusing Doherty's bail request. Dear dear.


Elsewhere in the courts of pop, former Bay City Rollers frontman Les McKeown has denied conspiring to sell or deal cocaine.

As you'll remember, this all relates to an incident in an Essex car park involving McKeown's former bandmate Patrick McGlynn. He allegedly showed up at said car park last May with sixteen grand in cash. McGlynn claims he was there to buy a car - but the car of the person he was meeting turned out to have rather a lot of cocaine in the boot - sixteen grands worth prosecutors reckon. Police also found a line of coke in McGlynn's car, which they say was free sample ahead of the alleged drugs purchase. The former Roller argues that line was for his personal use, and had no relation to any subsequent planned dealings. As it was, no dealings actually did take place because police moved in.

McKeown is implicated in all of this because phone calls and text messages exchanged between the two former bandmates allegedly show that McKeown had set up the meeting between McGlynn and the alleged drugs dealer. But the frontman told a Basildon court yesterday that while he had taken the drug, he did not deal in it: "I have taken it - maybe two or three times a year but I do not have anything to do with supplying cocaine".

McGlynn, meanwhile, is also denying all charges. He says that he did not know the man he met that day was a drug dealer, that he met him simply to buy a car, adding that he was "comfortable" financially and had no need to resort to dealing in hard drugs to raise cash.

The case is due to continue today.


Steely Dan man Donald Fagen will release his third solo album, 'Morph The Cat', on 6 Mar via Warner label Reprise. His first solo album since 1993's 'Kamakiriad', the new long player is apparently the final instalment in the 'music trilogy' that Fagen began way back in 1982 with the release of 'The Nightfly'. Press info on the new album from Noble PR.


Organisers of the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas which is, unless I'm mistaken, the next big music industry junket in the calendar, have confirmed that Morrissey will be giving a rare interview at the event. Rolling Stone journalist David Fricke will have the challenge of tackling the famously awkward interviewee. The interview will precede a live performance which is likely to be one of the first opportunities to hear music from the up coming Mozza album 'Ringleader Of The Tormentors', which is due out on Sanctuary in April.

Elsewhere in Morrissey news, and promoters of that previously reported massive, massive Morrissey tour have confirmed that Sons And Daughters and Tiger Army will support. A couple of Irish dates have also been added to that massive, massive tour - he'll now appear at Killarney INEC on 13 Apr and Dublin Olympia on 15 Apr.


Thank god for that. Hard-Fi have announced a handful of tour dates. Can't wait until they get to London, which they will, mark my words. Tickets go on sale 9am Wednesday, dates are as follows:

8 May: Manchester, Apollo
9 May: Edinburgh, Corn Exchange
11 May: Wolverhampton, Civic Hall
14 May: London, Brixton Academy
15 May: London, Brixton Academy


The rather buzzy Boy Kill Boy have announced that they'll be making an instore appearance, to include a gig and a signing, at Sister Ray Records on Berwick Street next month. It all kicks off at 5.15pm on 13 Feb. That event follows the release of new single 'Back Again' on 6 Feb, and precedes the following tour dates:

17 Feb: Stoke Sugarmill
18 Feb: Newcastle Academy
19 Feb: Glasgow King Tuts
20 Feb: Aberdeen Moshulo
21 Feb: York Fibbers
22 Feb: Leicester Charlotte
25 Feb: Aldershot West End
26 Feb: Bedford Esquires
27 Feb: London Kings College
1 Mar: Manchester Jabez Clegg
3 Mar: Liverpool Academy
4 Mar: Bristol Louisiana
5 Mar: Nottingham Social


The Charlatans release their latest album 'Simpatico' on 10 Apr, preceded by a single, 'Blackened Blue Eyes' on 27 Mar, and will tour shortly after that in support of the new LP. The dates are as follows:

24 Apr: Wolverhampton Civic Hall
25 Apr: Glasgow Barrowlands
26 Apr: Edinburgh Corn Exchange
27 Apr: Newcastle Carling Academy
29 Apr: Sheffield Octagon
30 Apr: Liverpool University
1 May: Nottingham Rock City
2 May: Leeds University
4 May: Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall
5 May: London Brixton Carling Academy
7 May: Bristol Carling Academy
8 May: Exeter University
9 May: Southampton Guildhall
11 May: Norwich UEA
12 May: Manchester Carling Apollo


The Kooks have announced a UK and Ireland tour for this summer, in addition the current series of gigs they're engaged in. New dates as follows:

1 May: Belfast Spring & Airbrake
2 May: Dublin The Village
4 May: Glasgow QMU
6 May: Manchester Academy
8 May: Sheffield Leadmill
9 May: Newcastle Academy
10 May: Leeds Blank Canvas
11 May: Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
13 May: Nottingham Marcus Garvey Centre
14 May: Norwich Waterfront
15 May: Cambridge Junction
17 May: Cardiff University Solus
18 May: London Astoria


Obscure northern outfit Arctic Monkeys have announced a UK tour for later in the year, if anyone's bothered. Apparently they released an album last week too. Tickets go on sale on Thursday. Here are the dates:

13 Apr: Nottingham Rock City
14 Apr: Glasgow Carling Academy
15 Apr: Newcastle Carling Academy
17 Apr: Bournemouth BIC
18 Apr: Plymouth Pavillions
19 Apr: Wolverhampton Civic
21 Apr: Newport Centre
22 Apr: Rotherham Magna Centre
23 Apr: Blackpool Empress Ballroom
25 Apr: Hull Ice Rink
26 Apr: Cambridge Corn Exchange
27 Apr: London Brixton Carling Academy


Yay. Covers. I'm all about the covers at the moment (it's because of that Barefoot 'Born Slippy' cover which currently has me mesmerised). Anyway, according to reports, Sugababes are to cover Arctic Monkeys' 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' on the B side of their upcoming single, 'Red Dress'.

You may remember that it was 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' that knocked the girlband's single 'Push The Button' from the number one slot back in October. The group apparently said: "We loved it even though it knocked us off number one. When our bosses asked us to think of covers for the B-side we knew which song we'd all love to do."


More Monkeys. Pretty soon we'll have the works of Shakespeare. Jarvis Cocker has heaped some praise on Arctic Monkeys, saying that he thinks the band have become very successful just because they're good, and not because of some clever marketing campaign. Cocker says: "I think it's very important because they've done it without trying. The only reason people have got into it is because they've listened to it and they like it, so it's something real. I guess all the music industry will probably think 'how can we emulate that or what can we do?' I think there's nothing they can do about it because it's something that has happened naturally, there's no way to apply spin doctorism to it."


SINGLE REVIEW: The Television Personalities - All The Young Children On Crack, All The Young Children On Smack (Domino)
Usually, there is a sense that the first single is pretty much the best song on the entire album. Which is why this, the taster for forthcoming album 'My Dark Places' is a baffling choice. Considering the melodic brilliance of the album, why offer this as the appetiser? It's not that it's bad - it's just that it's one of the weaker and weirder tracks on the LP. It's perfectly provocative (although the lyrics are actually rather sweet: 'I don't believe anyone is born bad / I don't believe anyone is born sad); and it is a fine enough song as part of a whole. But the mantra-style chant of the title lines, the minimal instrumentation of drum beat and acoustic guitar? This single does not scream for airplay. The album deserves a better representation. SIA
Release date: 6 Feb
Press contact: Hermana PR [CP, RP, NP] Domino IH [CR, RR, NR]


Pink Floyd have denied rumours that they will play a host of comeback shows at the Albert Hall later this year. Said rumours appeared in the British press over the weekend. They're not true though. Or are they? No, they're not.

A statement from Pink Floyd man Roger Waters released yesterday ran thus: "Nick, Richard, Roger and I are telling fans directly that this is not happening."


Kanye West has been added to the lineup for the upcoming American Superbowl event thingy in Detroit, joining Stevie Wonder, Joss Stone and John Legend in the traditionally lavish pre-match show, and the Rolling Stones, who will appear at half time. Let's just hope he doesn't get his tits out.


Talking of music and sport, something we've been meaning to report on for a while now. DJ / producer type Richie Hawtin has produced music that will appear in the opening to the Winter Olympics which, sports fans, kick off in the Italian city of Turin on 9 Feb. Producers of the opening ceremony invited Hawtin to work with renowned Italian choreographer Enzo Cosimi to create a segment of the event. His new composition '9.20' will be accompanied by a performance from Cosimi choreographed dancers.

Commenting on the project, Hawtin told reporters: "Enzo and I are very much interested in pushing boundaries, both as artists and for our audiences. Working together for the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Games delivers the creative endeavour to not only entertain a huge audience, but to also introduce them to sights and sounds that they may have never experienced before".


Hey, more music and sport. This Sunday students from across Scotland will compete with music types, including King Creosote, My Latest Novel, Aberfeldy and The Bees, in what is becoming an annual students v musicians five-a-side football tournament staged by Tenants. The winning student team will get a free gig at their union on 2 Mar featuring all the participating musicians. Sorted. It all takes place at Edinburgh's World Of Football (which I'm told is next to the city's Corn Exchange venue) this Sunday (5 Feb) from 1-5pm, and spectators are welcome - admission is free. Press info from [email protected]


Talking of Scottish-based bands doing good things, Franz Ferdinand, Belle And Sebastian, Primal Scream and Snow Patrol are all to contribute songs to a new album, the proceeds of which will go to local children's charities. It was Belle And Sebastian's Mick Cooke who, aha, cooked up the idea of getting other groups involved after being asked to write songs for a charity LP. According to The Times, Franz Ferdinand are donating a brand new track, 'Jackie Jackson'.


Mobile phone type news anyone? ePM Online have announced a deal with Arvato (who represent T Mobile, Vodafone and others) which will give the 50+ independent labels ePM represent the opportunity to sell realtone ringtones to a customer base of over 100 million people (that's quite a lot).

Confirming the deals, ePM Online's Oliver Way told CMU: "This is a fantastic opportunity for our labels and artists to increase their revenues across the constantly evolving and growing mobile network markets throughout Europe. Last year there were 71 million downloads to mobile phones in Japan alone and that figure is rapidly growing throughout the rest of the world".


More phone related news. Warner Music has entered into a partnership with Skype, the phone-calls-over-the-internet company, to offer users of the PC based phone system the chance to buy Warner artist ringtones. Skype users will be able to pick from a number of Warner artist tracks which will then play when they get a call via the internet phone network.

The Skype ringtone service will include a 'featured artist' section which will launch with a number of ringtones from Warner artist Madonna. Users will be able to buy ringtones of 'Like A Virgin', 'Vogue' or more recent hit 'Hung Up'.

Confirming the new ringtone deal, Warner Music Group's Executive VP Digital Strategy and Business Development, Alex Zubillaga, told reporters: "Warner Music Group is pleased to partner with Skype as they launch the first music personalization products in the internet voice calling category. We are excited that more than 70 million Skype users around the world will now have the ability to enjoy content from Warner Music Group artists. Furthermore, this agreement exemplifies our commitment to finding new ways our artists' music can be experienced across emerging platforms and distribution channels."

Originally developed by the same people who created the Kazaa P2P software, Skype was bought by eBay last year. The company will hope that ringtone packages such as that available via its partnership with Warner will help distinguish its service in what is sure to become an increasingly competitive area in the next few years.


More digital music type news. A Belgian telephone company called Belgacom has closed down its online music service, Skynet, and will encourage its customers to use iTunes instead. Despite selling some 1.5 million tracks last year, the phone company decided it would rather close down its three year old service than compete with Apple's dominant download platform. Users will have till the end of March to use up any existing Skynet credits.

Aside from wanting to keep our many legions of Belgian readers up to date, stories like this possibly have wider implications, because after two years in which everyone seemed to be launching download platforms, Belgacom's decision might be the sign that smaller players in the sector are preparing to drop out of the race - especially those run by companies for whom downloading has never been a big part of their business. If that does become the trend it could be bad news for companies like Loudeye/OD2, who provide the back end of many of the branded download platforms, including Skynet.


Still, if no competing download platform can take on iTunes, perhaps those always determined consumer rights types can. Taking time off from slagging off the major labels for their copy-protection, DRM and anti-P2P activities, consumer rights groups are getting more vocal about their objections to Apple's download service.

The UK's National Consumer Council have expressed a number of concerns about iTunes, in particular the fact the Apple DRM can alter restrictions on tracks after they have been bought, the fact that iTunes tracks can only be played on the iPod, and other t&cs that iTunes customers are forced to sign up to.

Now the Consumer Council Of Norway have said a number of iTunes' practices violate the country's Marketing Control Act, in particular that changing restrictions thing, while they reckon restricting which player iTunes tracks can play on contravenes Norway's Copyright Act.

It is unclear if the Council intend to pursue any legal action relating to those claims - or whether they hope to simply cause enough media outrage to force Apple to change its DRM policies. Then again, Apple's PR men are even better than their lawyers, so such a strategy might not be successful. As yet, I suspect Apple aren't too bothered.


SINGLE REVIEW: Colder - To The Music (Output)
Very much the Paris-spawned progeny of early 80s New Order, 'To The Music' is nicely emblematic of the Colder oeuvre - chic, metronomic, decidedly European music that has one eye on the dance-floor and another on the recent post-punk past. Though not quite as impressive as the Joy-Division-gone-techno of previous singles 'Crazy Love' and 'Wrong Baby', this is still another fine single from Marc Nguyen, whose vocals strike just the right balance between deadpan and mysterious. The lengthy remix package is disappointingly a fairly barren affair though; most of the chosen remixers being too precious about the original material to conjure up anything very exciting. Lotterboys blandly house things up a bit, whilst Engel presses the button marked 'progressive' mid-way through his ten minute effort to similarly pedestrian effect. It's a good taster for last year's 'Heat' album though which, like 2003's 'Again', is well worth exploring. MS
Release date: 6 Feb
Press contact: Motion Group [all]


Tell me it's not true. According to The Sun, the lovely, lovely McFly are on the verge of breaking up. It's with a heavy heart that I report that the band and their management are allegedly in talks over McFly's future, seemingly because co-frontman Danny Jones has put a spanner in the works by saying he wants to take off the summer to spend his time writing solo material.

The tabloid claims via an 'insider' that Jones has increasingly itchy feet, quoting the source as saying: "Danny is not happy with how the band has been performing since the first album. Sales for the second album, 'Wonderland', were not good and their latest single, 'Ultraviolet', only just scraped into the Top Ten. Losing out on a Brit nomination was the last straw for Danny."

At the risk of sounding like an obsessive fan, they cannot and they must not. Well, not yet anyway. It's far, far too soon.


James Blunt found a 'Best Newcomer' gong very useful recently, when a burglar got into his hotel room. The singer apparently told The Sun how he awoke at 5am to find the thief in his room, and hit the intruder with his weighty trophy.

Blunt: "I had just picked up an award for Best Newcomer at the NRJ awards. It was pitch black in the room so I couldn't really see anything. I was looking for a phone to ring downstairs, or for an emergency button to push. But the only thing I could find was my NRJ award. He wasn't looking for me in particular - it was completely random. He must have climbed up some scaffolding, over the balcony and climbed in through my window."

He apparently joked: "It would be good to win a Brit Award - you never know when it might come in handy to use on burglars."

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