CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 20th September
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- ERA give backing to wider download inclusion in singles charts
- Red Hot Chili Peppers dominate EMA and AMA nominations
- Final Fantasy wins inaugural Polaris prize
- Jazz types to protest over MOBO exclusion
- Ashanti in court over producer dispute
- Grand jury to deliberate Hank Williams Jr charges
- Etheridge on trial in Proof case
- Strummerville track release date set
- Wiley signs to Big Dada
- Sugarcubes reunite for birthday
- Beastie Boys go intimate for charity
- Gorillaz' monkey show UK dates
- Turin Brakes dates
- Ok Go go go
- Goose tour dates
- Another Finger Lickin all nighter
- Live review: Austin City Limits, Texas
- Sony Ericsson launch new music platform
- Fopp launch new download service
- Jesse McCartney album available in MP3 via Yahoo! US
- Microsoft plan YouTube style site
- Singer steps down from MCPS-PRS top job
- GCap to launch jazz station
- Eminem fails to agree divorce terms
- Aaron Carter engaged to playmate
- Pete dumps Nikki

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TOP BIT >>
So, the Entertainment Retail Association have said that they are now OK with proposals to start counting the download sales of new tracks in the overall singles chart from as soon as those tracks go on sale online and not, as is currently the case, only in the week before the physical CD goes on sale. Given that the retailers were the people most likely to object to those proposals when they are considered by chart chiefs later this month (control of the chart being split between the retailers and the record labels), it now seems likely those proposals will be passed and all download sales will subsequently be counted, providing, that is, that there will be a physical CD release at some point (download only releases still won't be counted).

The retailers have been accused by some of overcomplicating the inclusion of download data into the singles chart in order to protect their own commercial interests. That is essentially true, though I'm not sure I entirely blame the retail chains for doing so - after all, they cover half the cost of producing the chart simply because of its marketing value, so you can't really expect them to approve changes that means the chart they pay for suddenly starts to favour their new digital competitors.

Still, assuming the proposed changes go ahead, I think the singles chart will be again enhanced. The most obvious result of the inclusion of digital sales the week ahead of physical release has been the growing number of tracks that enter the chart in the lower numbers before going top ten in the week of physical release. The proposed change means we should see tracks enter even lower down, and slowly work their way up the Top 40 - like what the chart used to be - which is arguably good news for those bands with smaller marketing budgets, who can achieve chart exposure through digital sales to dedicated fans, and then use that exposure to boost sales once the physical CD is released.

That said, you might argue there are downsides to the changes too, other than possibly giving download platforms a competitive advantage over the high street record stores. Obviously those artists with a naturally web savvy fanbase are at something of an advantage. Also, future changes might also tip the balance back in favour of more pop acts.

EMI chief Tony Wadsworth, while commenting on (and welcoming) the retailers' support for the inclusion of wider download stats in the chart, also suggested that the sales of video downloads should be included in the mix. It's a fair suggestion to make - why should artists whose fans prefer to download videos rather than audio tracks be penalised? Except, of course, big pop acts are probably able to sell both audio and video versions of the same song to their fans, and if video sales were included in the chart those acts would score double chart points from those fans (whereas if someone bought a CD single which included the video as a bonus track - as many CD singles do - that would only count as one 'chart point').

So - perhaps surprisingly - I think I'm siding with the retailers here. The charts have to move with the times to stay credible, and in all sorts of ways the inclusion of digital data has made (and will make) the singles chart better. But chart bosses are right to be cautious in making radical changes - to ensure new rules don't suddenly favour one kind of music over another (and especially well funded releases over smaller, alternative and indie ones).

PS: Talking of pop fans contributing multiple chart points by buying different versions of the same release - encouraging such multiple purchases has, of course, long been a tactic employed by major labels to boost the chart position of priority releases (albeit a practice controlled by certain chart rules). Universal are employing such tactics with the forthcoming release of McFly's new single 'Star Girl' by not only releasing three versions of the CD single, but by offering a kind of box set offer that enables fans to buy all three releases in one go for a fiver. Only 'kind of' a box set, because the three singles will each get run through the till separately - therefore ensuring three chart points from one purchase (though fans can send off for a box to put the three releases in, so it does become a box set once the purchase has been made). But the best thing about this sneaky chart trick is the refreshing honesty in the promotion of it. One of the reasons given to McFly fans for taking advantage of the offer is that you'll be "helping McFly with three counts towards their chart position". Hurrah for McFly. We're seeing them play on Friday - can't wait.

PPS: Yeah, extra late today, though that's because the hi-tech swipe card entry system here at CMU HQ was so hi-tech this morning, it wouldn't let us in.

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BLATANT PLUGGING>>

CMU IN PRINT! - ADVERTISE RELEASES TO STUDENTS EVERYWHERE
As we mentioned back in July, we will be publishing a special edition of a CMU newspaper which will be distributed around campuses all over the UK as the student population returns for the new academic year later this month - offering a guide to all the great new music coming out this Autumn. This is a brilliant way to engage and excite 100,000s of students and young record buyers at the most important time in the college and music year. A full page costs £1000, a half page £600, a sixth page £260, a 12th page £160. Book your ad spots now - email ads@unlimitedmedia.co.uk.

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MYSPACE OF THE DAY: LUMINESCENT ORCHESTRII

I've been meaning to alert everyone to the existence of these guys for ages and ages. They first came to my attention at the Edinburgh Festival (which, I'm sure you all know, we cover via our sister publication ThreeWeeks in Edinburgh), possibly because one of my reviewers told me how great they are. And they are great. They are a six piece string based outfit purveying (popular word with me at the moment, that) gypsy, tango, Balkan punk. Or something like that. It's certainly gypsy. And certainly stringy. And certainly bloody good. Their live performances are quite extraordinary, but taking a look at the MySpace page will give you an idea of their sound, clearly, and they energy that they bring to the music. There are four tracks to listen to, and, if you're interested, quite a few blog entries.

http://www.myspace.com/luminescentorchestrii

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ERA GIVE BACKING TO WIDER DOWNLOAD INCLUSION IN SINGLES CHARTS
UK music retailers have given the OK to plans to drop complicated rules that govern the way digital music sales are incorporated into the lovely singles charts.

As you all surely know, when download stats were first incorporated into the main UK singles chart last year it was decided that only the sales of tracks that were also available as physical CDs would be included. This meant that when tracks were available via download platforms ahead of their physical release (which has become quite common, of course) sales of those tracks would only be counted during weeks when the track was also available in a conventional format - sales before this time, while counting towards a specific download chart, would never be counted in the main singles chart.

Those rules were subsequently adapted so that download sales were counted in the overall chart the week prior to physical release, and for two weeks after the time when the physical CD was officially deleted. But with many tracks available digitally several weeks ahead of physical release, this still means early download sales of those tracks are not counted in the singles chart.

It is now proposed to drop those rules altogether, so all digital sales are counted in the singles chart, oblivious of when the physical CD is released (providing, that is, that there will be a physical release at some point - tracks that are only available digitally full stop will still not be counted).

To be formally adopted, those proposals need the support of both the record labels and music retailers, who control and fund the music charts. It is the music retailers who have been most cautious about the introduction of digital sales stats into the charts - with traditional retailers worried about their newer digital competitors gaining advantage through changes in the charts they pay for. But yesterday the retailers' trade body, the Entertainment Retailers' Association, said they would support the latest proposals when the chart supervisory thingimy committee meet at the end of the month - meaning the new proposals could be in place by the start of next year.

ERA Secretary General Kim Bayley told reporters yesterday: "ERA, like the other members of the Chart Supervisory Committee, believe that these digital sales should count towards the chart. ERA think it's fine and the chart should count those sales, provided we can get the message across adequately to consumers as to what's going on".

Indicating support for the new moves from the record label side of the table, a spokesman for the BPI told the Beeb yesterday: "If the singles chart is to remain the definitive list of the country's favourite songs, it has to reflect how music fans buy them".

Meanwhile EMI top bloke Tony Wadsworth said he welcomed the proposals, adding that the current restrictions were "holding the continued growth of digital sales back". He said: "Unfortunately, we're in this period of transition where there's a reluctance in some quarters to let go of the physical part of the single. That has resulted in some of these rules, which I just think are slowing us down. A single can be made available for sale digitally as soon as it goes to radio and it's got a sales life which is not actually being represented in the chart until one week before a physical format is released, and that just seems absurd."

PS: Assuming this change goes ahead, an interesting result is that tracks will chart before they are available to buy in record shops. With the current system, although tracks can get into the chart without being physically released, by the time they chart they are available on CD (ie they chart Sunday evening, they go on sale Monday morning). The new system will pose an interesting racking challenge to record shops who have chart based displays - given that several of the 'chart slots' will be filled with songs they aren't currently selling.

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RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS DOMINATE EMA AND AMA NOMINATIONS
Those Red Hot Chili Peppers dominate the nominations for this year's MTV Europe Music Awards, which will take place in Copenhagen on 2 Nov. The LA band are shortlisted in four categories, including Best Album, Best Group, Best Rock Act and Best Song.

In the Best Album category they will compete with Madonna, Christina Aguilera and Nelly Furtado, all of whom are nominated in a total of three categories. Shakira, Kanye West and Muse are all also up for three gongs.

Organisers have confirmed Justin Timberlake will host the awards show, which will take place in Copenhagen's Bella Center Conventional Hall in front of an audience of 3000. An additional 10,000 are expected to watch the event on screens in the city's Radhuspladsen Town Square. Confirming his role as host, Timberlake told reporters: "It's going to be an amazing night. I'm working on several ideas with MTV at the moment and there are some great new interactive parts to the show."

Elsewhere in awards news, the nominations for the 2006 American Music Awards were announced yesterday. The main rival to the Grammys will take place on 21 Nov at LA's Shrine Auditorium. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are well represented again, up for three awards, as are Mariah Carey, the Black Eyed Peas and Nickelback. Mary J Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Eminem, Jamie Foxx, Pussycat Dolls, Rascal Flatts, TI, Carrie Underwood and Kanye West are each up for two awards. The winners will now be selected via a poll of 20,000 US music fans.

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FINAL FANTASY WINS INAUGURAL POLARIS PRIZE
More awards, and the very first Polaris Music Prize was awarded in Toronto on Monday night. This, as previously reported, is something of a Canadian version of the Mercury Music Prize. The inaugural winner was Final Fantasy, or Owen Pallett to give him his real name, who won the $20,000 prize and, one would hope, something of a boost in record sales (especially as he's promised to share the prize money with members of his Toronto-based collective, the Blocks Recording Club).

On winning the prize Pallett commented: "I always feel like Canadian critics, especially, have for a long time, been hesitant to get behind something and say, hey this is really great. It's just part of the Canadian mentality. I think the best thing about the Polaris prize is it's maybe going to set a precedent for people to actually get behind our artists."

As previously reported, other artists up for the prize included Metric, Wolf Parade, The New Pornographers and Broken Social Scene.

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JAZZ TYPES TO PROTEST OVER MOBO EXCLUSION
Elsewhere in awards news, and it's the MOBO Awards tonight though, alas, there will be no prize this time round for the best talent in the jazz world - despite it being very much a 'music of black origin'. MOBO organisers have dropped the best jazz category from this year's line up, and some in the jazz community aren't impressed with that development, and will be letting the world know outside the Royal Albert Hall as the awards bash takes place inside. They have gained permission from the London police to stage a peaceful protest outside the awards as guests arrive this evening.

Organisers of the protest have issued the following statement: "MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) appear to have forgotten their original purpose which is so clearly explained in their mission statement on their website: MOBO 'identifies, showcases and celebrates music derived from Black heritage', 'is R&B, reggae, hip-hop and jazz' and 'seeks to promote the history of music of black origin'. The removal of the jazz category undermines the original spirit of the MOBO awards, and ignores the place of jazz in the heritage of Black music and its influence on all other forms of popular music. It also ignores the incredible wealth and diversity of the jazz talent in the UK, and the vitality of the jazz scene which so obviously draws upon influences from other Black music such as hip hop, R&B and grime. Despite several complaints from the jazz community, MOBO has failed to reinstate the award."

Among those behind the protest are jazz music promoters Air and jazz musician Abram Wilson, who plans to play jazz and blues music with a ten piece band as part of the protest. Former MOBO-winner Soweto Kinch will also take part. Anyone wanting to join in should gather outside the Royal Albert Hall at 5.45pm - I'm guessing it will be obvious whose doing the protesting (listen out for the jazz). The protest is expected to last about an hour.

Press info on this from sheela@airmtm.com

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ASHANTI IN COURT OVER PRODUCER DISPUTE
Ashanti has appeared in court in New York to testify in that previously reported contract dispute with her former producer Genard Parker, who is suing the star for $2.3m, for royalties he claims he is due for helping to start her career. Ashanti's lawyers, however, say he should receive no more than $50,000.

The singer, full name Ashanti Douglas, was of course ordered to pay Parker $630,000 by a jury in New York last year, but the decision was later rejected by a judge who ruled that the jurors were not in possession of enough facts to be able to decide on damages.

Testifying this week, Douglas explained that she and her mother had worked on songs at Genard Parker's home back in 1996, but, according to Ashanti's attorney, the producer "couldn't deliver", and signed a release giving her the freedom to sign up with a label.

Parker claims that agreement promised him a percentage of sales from Ashanti's first three records, but the singer's lawyers claim that the deal became void when she was rejected by her first record company.

The case, presumably, continues.

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GRAND JURY TO DELIBERATE HANK WILLIAMS JR CHARGES
A grand jury is to decide if Hank Williams Jr will stand trial over those previously reported assault charges after a judge in Memphis ruled that probable cause had been established. Waitress Holly Hornbeak accused the country star of swearing at her, trying to kiss her, and choking her back in March this year.

Williams' attorney, Leslie Ballin, claims that the case is "an attempt at a financial hijacking", perhaps based on the fact that legal representation hired by Hornbeak's parents asked Williams to pay compensation of $250,000 just two days after the alleged assault. Ms Hornbeak herself, however, denies that money comes into it. Testifying that she had red marks and bruising on her neck the following day, the waitress said: "It was a serious attack and this is not something you take lightly."

If found guilty, Williams could face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500 (£1,060).

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ETHERIDGE ON TRIAL IN PROOF CASE
Opening arguments began on Monday in the trial of Mario Etheridge, the man who shot and killed D12 rapper Proof earlier this year.

As previously reported, Etheridge is not on trial for murder but for carrying a concealed weapon and illegally firing a weapon in an occupied building. Prosecutors announced back in May that Etheridge would not be charged with killing the rapper, real name Deshaun Holton, as he acted lawfully in defence of his cousin Keith Bender, who was, of course, shot by Holton on Eight Mile Road that night, dying in hospital a week later.

According to prosecutor Elizabeth Walker, however, Etheridge sparked the chain of events leading to the death of both Holton and Bender. She claims Proof did not reach for his weapon until Etheridge heightened the tension by firing warning shots into the ceiling of the CCC Club, and, Walker argues, taking the incident "up a notch". She added: "That was the first display, the first use, the first time anyone knew about a weapon".

If convicted, Etheridge could face up to five years in prison for carrying a concealed weapon, and four years for discharging a firearm in an occupied building.

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STRUMMERVILLE TRACK RELEASE DATE SET
Details are out about this Babyshambles & Friends release. Which is really interesting, because I didn't know Babyshambles had any friends. Drug buddies maybe. Tolerators perhaps. But friends? Only joking, I'm sure their phones are full of numbers. I mean, there are quite a lot of dealers out there, and The Priory now operate fifty different centres. No, stop it. This is a charity project - you people want to stop giving the Shamblers a hard time.

Anyhow, this is the previously reported track being released in aid of the Joe Strummer Foundation For New Music - or Strummerville - a cover version of Clash track 'Janie Jones' featuring the Shamblers and a host of others, including The Rakes, Mystery Jets, The Holloways, We Are Scientists, The Paddingtons, Larrikin Love, Cazals, Noisettes, Good Books, Lady Fuzz, Kooks, Jack Penate, Laura Marling, Maccabees, Lisa Moorish, Light Speed Champ (Test Icicles), Jamie T, Jeremy Warmsley, Guillemots and even one Carl Barat.

The single will be released on 30 Oct by B-unique and will include the collaborative track, a version of the song performed by Doherty alone, and a remix. Press info from Coalition.

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WILEY SIGNS TO BIG DADA
Big Dada have announced that grime pioneer Wiley has joined the label. On signing to the label, the Roll Deep man said: "I think it's good because all my life I've been looking for a creative control, to make an album that I'll enjoy listening to and performing... a grime album that I really want to make!"

His first album for the label is expected next year.

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SUGARCUBES REUNITE FOR BIRTHDAY
The Sugarcubes are to be reunited onstage for the first time in fourteen years when they play a gig on 17 Nov in Reykjavik to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the release of their debut single 'Birthday'. According to Bjork's website, proceeds from the show are to be donated to the band's Smekkleysa label, which "will continue to work on a non-profit basis for the future betterment of Icelandic music and artists."

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BEASTIE BOYS GO INTIMATE FOR CHARITY
More charity gigs, and The Beastie Boys are to play an intimate show at New York's Hiro Ballroom on 4 Oct in aid of Gimme Shelter, a charity that promotes animal adoption programmes and birth control. Other guests appearing on the night include Debbie Harry and comedian Michael Showalter.

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GORILLAZ' MONKEY SHOW UK DATES
Remember how Gorillaz creators Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett have been commissioned to get involved with that 'Monkey - Journey To The West' circus thing? Well, the show, performed by Shaolin monks and Peking opera types, and which features music from Albarn and set by Hewlett, will open the Manchester International Festival on 28 Jun 2007, and will run for 12 subsequent performances. It sounds cool. So I would like to go.

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TURIN BRAKES DATES
Turin Brakes have announced a short tour for later this year. It's short because they are, in fact, presently recording a new album. Here's where you can catch them:

22 Nov: Bournemouth, Opera House
23 Nov: Stoke, Sugarmill
24 Nov: York, Fibbers
26 Nov: Exeter, Pheonix Club
27 Nov: Bristol, Fleece
28 Nov: Leicester, Charlotte

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OK GO GO GO
Okay Go are a bit busy at the moment. This is possibly because of the release of their new single 'Here It Goes Again' on 25 Sep. So, they'll be doing some instores, as follows:

20 Sep 5pm: Music Zone, Mander Centre, Wolverhampton
22 Sep 5pm: Music Zone, Arndale Shopping Centre, Manchester
25 Sep 5pm: Music Zone, 69-70 Briggate, Leeds

It doesn't end there though. Oh no. They are currently on tour supporting Motion City Soundtrack. The remaining dates are as follows:

20 Sep: Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
21 Sep: Newcastle University
22 Sep: Manchester Academy
24 Sep: Glasgow ABC
25 Sep: Leeds Met University
27 Sep: Portsmouth Pyramid
28 Sep: London Astoria

Press info from Gilotti PR.

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GOOSE TOUR DATES
Goose are also on tour. Now. They're doing more dates this month. Tell you what, I'll list them all here for you. After I've pointed out that their album 'Bring It On' is out now. I kind of want to go to one of these gigs. In fact I'd like to go to one tonight. To be fair, they'll probably sound as good in London as they will in Cambridge.

20 Sep: Club Goo Cambridge
21 Sep: QMU, Glasgow
22 Sep: Barfly, Birmingham
25 Sep: Club NME, Newcastle
26 Sep: Brickyard, Carlisle
30 Sep: Turnmills, London
1 Oct: Ballroom, Nottingham
13 Oct: Radio Soulwax @ Warehouse, Manchester
14 Oct: Radio Soulwax @ Chibuku, Liverpool
26 Oct: Barfly, London

Again, press info from Gilotti PR.

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ANOTHER FINGER LICKIN ALL NIGHTER
Another date for the diary of all you breaks types. The next Finger Lickin all nighter will take place at Mass in Brixton on 30 Sep and will feature a storming line up featuring no less than Brothers Bud, Def Inc, Slyde, Soul Of Man, Drummatic Twins, Stereo 8 and, of course, those Plump DJs. There'll also be a funkier second room hosted by Spunky, featuring A-Skillz, Cedric Benoit, Eddie Fett and Kid Ross. Tickets are £12.50 in advance, or £15 on the door, and are on sale now from quality London record shops or http://www.fingerlickin.co.uk. Press info from Get Involved.

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LIVE REVIEW: Sunday at Austin City Limits, Texas on 17 Sep
Austin City Limits is a festival still in its infancy. At only 5 years old, it hasn't yet built up the heritage of, say, Glastonbury, Reading or even newer US festivals like Coachella. Credit where credit's due, though - Austin City Limits is a damn fine festival. As the name suggests, it takes place in Austin, Texas, but it's actually in the middle of the city, just a stone's throw from the main clubs and bars district. Sadly, I wasn't able to go to the whole thing, just the Sunday, so here's a rundown of the bands I was able to catch.

Wandering in, the first thing that struck me was how many stages there were. Austin City Limits features 4 main stages, as well as 4 smaller stages. The organisers have hit on the brilliant idea of sticking two stages of similar size very close to each other and alternating bands between the two - effectively removing the wait between performers, letting them fit more bands in and keeping crowds moving around. A simple, but genius idea that I'd love to see spread around UK festivals.

First up was KT Tunstall. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I actually really like 'Suddenly I See' as a pop song. I'm pretty ignorant of anything else she's released, however, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a set full of diverse pop. Playing after KT, or Kate, as her mother probably calls her, was Jose Gonzales. Again, I'll have to admit to being ignorant of the majority of his work beforehand, but I was impressed with how well - armed with just an acoustic guitar - he filled up a big festival stage. The climax of his short set was a stunning rendition of Massive Attack's 'Teardrop'. Truly beautiful.

Following Jose on the same stage were The New Pornographers - the Canadian indie supergroup which features Neko Case and Carl Newman. I'd heard a lot of good things, but ultimately came away unsatisfied - not unimpressed, just unsatisfied. It felt as if they had some really good songs to play, but that they weren't able to put them across live. Flaming Lips, on the other hand, put their songs across extraordinarily well. All the usual Flaming Lips tricks were there - glitter cannons, frontman Wayne Coyne getting into a big ball and crowdsurfing in it, huge inflatable robots at the back of the stage that 'died' during Yoshimi Part 1, and random people on the sides of the stage dressed up as Santas and Aliens. I'm firmly of the belief that everyone should see the Flaming Lips at least once, and that doing so will usher in a new era of world peace and harmony among nations.

On the other hand, making everyone in the world see Muse might usher in a new world war. Muse's bombastic, electrifying performance was as big a contrast from the Flaming Lips as you're ever likely to see. Muse, put quite simply, rock. Even more so when the sky is full of lightning threatening a thunderstorm. From the shuddering behemoth that is 'Supermassive Black Hole' to the electrorock of 'Time Is Running Out', Muse gave 100% from beginning to end, making a tremendous racket for a 3-piece band. Unfortunately, the end of their set was cut short, thanks to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers wanting to start at the other end of the festival. As rain started to fall, I decided to skip Tom Petty and begin the trip home. Austin City Limits is a lovely festival, with great ideas and a classy lineup. Next year I'll have to snag some weekend tickets. DG

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SONY ERICSSON LAUNCH NEW MUSIC PLATFORM
Another promotional download platform thingy for you - this one from phone firm Sony Ericsson, who tell us that their latest venture is "yet another building block in our extensive mobile music offering to music fans worldwide", and we love building blocks here at CMU.

It's an online community designed to champion new and developing talent. Called M-BUZZ, it will be available via Sony Ericsson phones using their proprietary PlayNow service, and also via a new website. Music fans will be able to access full tracks, videos, biographies and gig listings (yes, that's right, gig listings, wow) via the service. At launch the community will be driven by a partnership with Sony Corp's music publishing company, Sony/ATV, who will showcase talent from its catalogue via the service.

Announcing the new service, Sony Ericsson President Miles Flint told CMU: "Today's announcement is another great example of the cooperative spirit that exists between Sony Ericsson and other Sony Group companies, which gives us a unique opportunity to bring appealing, innovative content to our mobile phones. M-BUZZ enables music fans not just to hear new, unsigned acts, but also to find out more about the musicians through interviews, home movies and more, creating a new mobile music experience."

Sony/ATV CEO David Hockman added: "Sony/ATV Music Publishing is always looking for new and compelling ways to promote our artists and song writers. This partnership with Sony Ericsson gives our musicians and writers unprecedented exposure to music fans around the world, and we are very pleased to join with Sony Ericsson in bringing this unique music channel to consumers."

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FOPP LAUNCH NEW DOWNLOAD SERVICE
More downloady things, and independent record shop chain FOPP has announced they will launch a new download service at the end of the week. The service will be powered by London based download provider 7Digital, and will offer music fans access to half a million tracks and a thousand videos. As you'd expect, the FOPP service aims to offer particularly good access to independent music, and will offer tracks as MP3 downloads where labels allow.

Confirming their involvement in the venture, 7Digital top man Ben Drury told CMU: "Our unique download service for independent retailers, which is supported by all the major labels, is a great way for brands such as FOPP to compete in the digital world. We're excited to have FOPP, the most innovative and exciting of high-street retailers, on board."

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JESSE MCCARTNEY ALBUM AVAILABLE IN MP3 VIA YAHOO US
Talking of making music available as MP3, Yahoo Music in the US is pushing another promotion that is making a mainstream artist's music available in non-DRM protected MP3 format.

You'll remember they ran a promotion with SonyBMG signed Jessica Simpson which allowed fans to download one of her tracks as an MP3, though the major stressed that its involvement in that promotion was not part of any strategic change of heart regarding the need to include DRM on its music (in the promotion users could pick from different versions of the track where Simpson mentioned different names - ie, people were meant to pick a version that featured their name - the gimmick, SonyBMG would argue, overcame the need for DRM).

In the new promotion, fans of pop singer Jesse McCartney can buy his new album 'Right Where You Want Me' via Yahoo's American music site as MP3 files. Now, McCartney is signed to Hollywood Records which is technically an independent label so this isn't possibly that big a news story (most indies make music available via MP3), though it is owned by Disney, so tends to act more like a major, so their decision to make music available in an unprotected format, albeit for one promotion, is possibly an important move. If the promotion was run over here (which it isn't currently), then it might be a bigger story, because McCartney's music is released in partnership with EMI in the UK.

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MICROSOFT PLAN YOUTUBE STYLE SITE
The kings of copy Microsoft have confirmed they are testing a new video sharing platform called Soapbox which is, you guessed it, their copy of YouTube. A limited community of invited users will get to play with Soapbox during its pilot phase - with a proper launch planned for early next year.

Commenting on the new service, MSN's Rob Bennett told reporters: "We're definitely not blind to the fact that YouTube has a big lead right now. [But] it's really early days in online video. This is still act one". (Which is, of course, exactly what Microsoft's J Allard said when asked about the lead Apple's iTunes has on their new download service Zune).

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SINGER STEPS DOWN FROM MCPS-PRS TOP JOB
We reported yesterday - albeit very briefly - that the boss of the MCPS-PRS Alliance, Adam Singer, has announced he will step down after the upcoming Copyright Tribunal between the Alliance and the BPI is completed (which could be as soon as 20 Oct).

Confirming his intention to leave the organisation, which he only joined in February of last year, Singer said all of the following: "The Alliance is now stronger than ever. The finances and the underlying strengths of the organisation are in great shape and I would like to thank the management team led by Steve Porter for its efforts and for making my job so easy. The Alliance has clear understanding of the issues it faces, has re-established itself as one of the leading collecting societies in the world, launched a pan-European licensing initiative and begun the process of modernising the licensing of music to our customers".

He continued: "The Tribunal is one of those natural punctuation points; a digital rubicon that marks the end of analogue comfort. I was merely a counsellor to help the Alliance over the death of analogue, and to help them welcome the opportunities of a digital world. I have enjoyed my time here, and the imminent arrival of a template that will determine music trading in the digital world makes this a good time to drop the pilot."

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GCAP TO LAUNCH JAZZ STATION
Some good news for all those protesting jazz fans up at the top of the Daily - GCap has announced it will launch a national digital radio station that will aim to do for jazz what their Classic FM station did for classical music (which, some classical purists might argue, isn't altogether good news, but those purists are hard to please). The new station, which will launch before the end of the year, will feature a broad range of jazz styles, including bebop, swing, trad, blues and modern jazz.

In a statement, the radio group told reporters: "Feedback from listeners and market research point to a strong demand for this format and GCap Media believes that such a service is best delivered on a national platform where the station can generate significant audience".

Darren Henley, the Classic FM exec who will lead the new service, added: "We want to do for jazz what we've done for classical music at Classic FM. The service will be programmed in a similar style to Classic, treating jazz with the respect it deserves while making it accessible to people who enjoy jazz but may never have been able to listen to specialist jazz programmes before."

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EMINEM FAILS TO AGREE DIVORCE TERMS
Eminem has met with his estranged (for the second time) wife Kim Mathers and their lawyers in a private session in a judge's chambers this week, but the two parties failed to agree on terms for the couple's second divorce. Judge Antonio confirmed the failure of the talks, telling reporters "We didn't settle it, so all we did was set it for mediation."

Both legal teams refused to comment on the specifics of the conference, but were hopeful that a settlement will soon be agreed upon. Eminem's lawyer, Harvey Hauer said: "Mr. Mathers' only concern is the welfare of his children. Hopefully, we'll put the matter behind us."

Kim Mathers' lawyer Michael Smith added "Like Marshall . . . what she really wants is the welfare of the children. The parties are hopeful that it will be settled amicably."

As previously reported, Marshall Mathers III filed for divorce from Kim on 5 Apr this year, just 82 days after their second marriage.

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AARON CARTER ENGAGED TO PLAYMATE
Wee Aaron Carter has got himself engaged to a Playboy Playmate. The singer, who is all of eighteen, proposed to twenty two year old Kari Ann Peniche in front of an audience of 200 people in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Peniche says: "I'm very excited about it. Aaron is the most genuine person I know. He's kind, loving, and I love him so much. I don't remember it happening. It was such a blur. I had no idea he was going to do this, but I'm glad he did."

They plan to tie the knot in six months time. Which is interesting, because the words 'six months' had already sprung to my mind. As in, "I'll give it six months".

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PETE DUMPS NIKKI
And from the file marked 'only tenuously related to music' (he was in a band before he began his new career as a 'celebrity', and apparently is currently seeking a record deal, albeit having reportedly dumped the aforementioned band), that Pete Bennett who won Big Brother has dumped girlfriend and fellow BB contestant Nikki Grahame, seemingly on account of the fact that he wasn't getting any.

The Tourettes poster boy told Heat magazine: "She was never really interested, whereas my sex drive is very high! If I ever tried it on, she would have to finish her make-up or be looking her best."

To be fair, it wasn't just about the shagging. He added he didn't actually like her much anyway, saying: "Her behaviour made me embarrassed. She was saying my friend's house smelt of 'doggie-woggies' and started spraying perfume everywhere. When we were at a party she was asked to help clear up. She said, 'Have you seen an A-list celebrity working?' and refused to do anything. She's high maintenance."

Nikki, by all accounts, is "devastated".

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