CMU Daily - on the inside Thursday 9th November
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Microsoft to pay Universal a cut on Zune sales
- British artists dominate Europe million sellers list
- Doherty fined for assault
- Jacko to perform Thriller at awards gig
- G-Unit weapons charges dropped
- Federline to fight for custody
- Madonna's bruise
- X Factor winner will enter race for Christmas number one
- Yeah Yeah writers sign to Notting Hill
- Corgan plays short set for In The Attic
- Sugababes tour
- Yeti tour
- Early bird tickets on sale for Big Chill
- Early bird tickets on sale for Oxegen
- Nastyfest line up
- Tidy New Year's weekend
- Live review: The Knife
- EMI label launch boyband via Habbo Hotel
- Mobile ticketing service announces latest gigs
- Napster, subscribers down, but losses down too
- NTL to rebrand as Virgin Media
- Freeview rebrand too
- Noel Gallagher harks back to the old days
- Genesis guitarist on tour
- Dixie Chicks take shots at Bush
- Eminem on relationship with Carey
- Girls Aloud singer is new face of Ultimo
- Kanye West apologises, was pissed

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TOP BIT>>
OK, time now for a Top Bit for all those students out there in CMU land based in London. Apologies to the rest of you. But there's some great corporate identity stories lower down in today's Daily, you should go and read them. You'll love them. Meanwhile, if you are a student in London, read this.

UnLimited is launching a new programme that will expand our ThreeWeeks in Edinburgh and Brighton project to London all year round. This will give London based students the opportunity to gain on-the-ground media experience by reviewing arts, culture and entertainment in the capital, while providing the capital's cultural community with a new media platform that exists to seek out and champion great new film, theatre, comedy, music, art and literature.

As we've mentioned on, oh, a few occasions, ThreeWeeks has been covering the Edinburgh Festival for over eleven years. Each year we recruit and train 75 students from across the UK who between them review more or less every show at the Edinburgh Festival - that's 1250 shows covering film, theatre, music, musicals, comedy, dance, opera, art, literature and politics. These reviews are published in a weekly newspaper, daily reviews sheet and online. Through the project ThreeWeeks provides the most extensive coverage of the Edinburgh Festival, with particular emphasis on the grass roots shows and performers the mainstream press ignore.

For the new programme - ThisWeek In London - we will recruit 100 students based in the capital with an interest in the arts, music, entertainment and / or the media. We will provide participating students free training on arts and entertainment journalism, and then arrange for them to review shows and events within their chosen genres. Their reviews of these shows and events will be published, initially via the ThisWeek London website, and later through other media channels. Again, ThisWeek In London plans to provide truly extensive coverage of arts, culture and entertainment in London, focusing in on exciting grass roots groups and individuals ignored by the mainstream media.

Being a reviewer for ThisWeek In London is voluntary. We will, however, offer free training and ongoing support to help participants develop their own media skills. Being involved in ThisWeek in London will also offer participants real world media experiences, the opportunity to make contacts within the media, entertainment and PR industries, and a real stepping stone between student media and the real world media industry. Participating students will be able to choose both which genres they review and when they are available - enabling them to concentrate on the areas that interest them, and to fit their involvement with ThisWeek In London around their studies.

We are recruiting right now. We will interview interested students in the next month and start running regular training courses later this month - get recruited and come to one of those training courses, and you could be reviewing within weeks. To apply to join the ThisWeek In London team download an application form from http://www.collegemedianetwork.co.uk and email it in asap.

Anyone wanting to know more about ThisWeek In London, especially if you are interested in the advertising or sponsorship opportunities this brilliant new project offers, should contact chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk. Needless to say, we'll let you know editorial info as soon as its finalised.

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CLASSIFIEDS>>

WORKING LONG DAYS OR LATE NIGHTS?
Suffering with stiff shoulders, backache or a sore neck?
Feeling tired, stressed or simply deserve a treat?

If so, Calma can help. We provide high quality complementary therapy treatments for clients in the music, media and creative industries. Plus, for the whole of November CMU Daily readers will receive an introductory discount on workplace massage treatments, which means you and your colleagues can receive a 20 minute treatment for just £10 each.

Please contact Caroline Dapre for full details - caroline@calma.biz / www.calma.biz

--

ADVERTISE YOUR SERVICES & PRODUCTS here for just £50 a week, or £150 for two weeks in the Daily and four weeks on the web. Email ads@unlimitedmedia.co.uk for details.

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HOT OFF THE PRESS>>

ROCK SOUND
Songs for the death? The world's hottest band - My Chemical Romance - are this month's Rock Sound cover stars. We get up close and personal with Gerard Way and co. Plus exclusive interviews with Fall Out Boy, Incubus, (+44), Evanescence, Lostprophets, New Found Glory, Killswitch Engage, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Dashboard Confessional + much, much more. There's also a FREE CD featuring 15 massive tracks by featured artists and an EXCLUSIVE Bring Me The Horizon poster-mag. On sale now, priced £3.50 at WH Smith, HMV, Virgin, Borders and all good newsagents.

Available for just £3.50 at WH Smith, HMV, Virgin, Borders and all good newsagents. For more information see http://www.rock-sound.net

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CMU RECOMMENDS>>

KILL ALL HIPPIES NOVEMBER
The next edition of the CMU recommended Kill All Hippies takes place this coming Friday - 10 Nov - at its new home, the Carling Islington Academy, you'll find Archie Bronson Outfit and Kubichek and Broken Dolls all taking live to the KAH stage. DJs wise the Cooper Temple Clause boys will join KAH resident Gavin Nugent in the main room, while in Room 2 you'll find the City Rockers team with Eclectic Aristocracy, GoodBooks, We Hate You, Gaz N Max and the Xerox Teen all taking to the decks. Doors open at 8.30pm, it runs till 4am, and tickets are just £6 if you guest list in advance. Oh yes, and Carling is just £1.80 a pint - bargain.

Full info>> http://www.leylinepromotions.com/killallhippies

BREAKING GROUND
Another storming night for your diaries - the second edition of breaks fest Breaking Ground. All the big names are going to be on the bill - Pendulum (Live), Stanton Warriors, Rennie Pilgrem with MC Chickaboo, Splitloop (Live), Precision Cuts, Janette Slack, Breakfastaz, Deekline & Wizard with MC Ivory, Cltr-Z, Freshold, Si Begg, General Midi, Soto, Merka, Symmetrik, Dirtpop, Mr Sushi and Fyoog. Phew. It will all take place at London's seOne Club on Saturday 2 Dec, from 9.30pm to 6am. Tickets are £18.50 in advance - from http://www.ticketweb.co.uk - press info from Leyline.

Full info>> http://www.leylinepromotions.com/breakingground

PRODUCTION MAGIC
Music Tank and the Music Producers' Guild's Production Magic conference is the one stop all day event for anyone working in music production, with a stack of top names offering their insights into this exciting sector of the music biz. Dance music pioneer Nile Rodgers will provide the opening address, multi-Grammy winning Phil Ramone will be interviewed, plus Guy Chambers, John Leckie, Magnus Fiennes and Hugh Padgham are among the other producers who will speak at the event. This all takes place at the London offices of the Magic Circle a week on Saturday - 11 Nov. For full details you need to get on over to http://www.musictank.co.uk. Admission to the conference is £155, but CMU readers can get a £40 discount (ie the trade association rate) - for details of how to book with that discount email productionmagic@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk.

Full info>> http://www.musictank.co.uk

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MYSPACE OF THE DAY: Client
We mentioned Client in the Daily yesterday and it reminded me that they're good. I mean, I am aware that, given my continuous exposure to contemporary music in my day to day life, I probably ought to just remember, and not need these reminders. One might even say that it's my job to remember such things. Well one might be right. But what one must not forget is the sheer volume of music I am exposed to in my daily life. It's hard to keep track. Anyway, you guys know Client. You must do. But you're all, no doubt, exposed to shit-loads of music in your daily lives and you might have forgotten that they're good too. Those remaining, who live under rocks and don't know much about Client, hear ye this: Created in 2002, they're Kate Holmes, previously of Frazier Chorus and Technique, Sarah Blackwood, lead singer of Dubstar and more recent addition, model/stuckist Emily Mann/Strange, although I think they prefer to be known as Client A, Client B and Client E. Anyway, now's a good time to tell you about the electro-poppers' MySpace page, because they've got a new album coming out (admittedly not until April next year), and some upcoming European gigs to plug. Four tracks on the website, amongst them their 'Down To The Underground' track, featuring that Pete Doherty, plus two remixes of their upcoming single 'Xerox'.

http://www.myspace.com/client

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MICROSOFT TO PAY UNIVERSAL A CUT ON ZUNE SALES
In a deal which could change the relationship between the music business and the electronics firms making music players, Microsoft has agreed to pay Universal Music Group a fee for each new Zune digital music player it sells. Microsoft's competitor to the iPod launches next week, accompanied by its own iTunes style download platform, the Zune Marketplace. But the new deal means that Universal will benefit from hardware sales as well as any tracks sold via the download platform.

Universal chief Doug Morris confirmed his deal with Microsoft this week, though he wouldn't be drawn on how much his company will earn off each Zune sale. But he did tell reporters: "We felt that any business that's built on the bedrock of music we should share in".

Presumably the other major record companies will look for similar deals with Microsoft. What will be more interesting to see is if the record companies are able to factor in similar cuts on hardware sales with the manufacturers of other MP3 players or music-player phones. Obviously the record companies do not currently receive such a payment on the sales of Apple's market leading music player the iPod. On that fact, Morris continued: "We were very early in working with [Apple boss] Steve [Jobs] on the launch of the iPod and he's been a very good partner and done a lot for the industry. We have a current contract with him and at the end of that I'm sure we'll negotiate".

It's not clear whether Microsoft will enjoy any content exclusives out of the deal, which might give their new player and download service some competitive advantage over Apple. Microsoft Entertainment's Chris Stephenson said, simply: "It's not a new conversation, it's been out there in the industry for a while. We've been careful in thinking about it from an economic point of view from day one."

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BRITISH ARTISTS DOMINATE EUROPE MILLION SELLERS LIST
British acts dominate the list of million+ selling artists in Europe this year, so well done us (well, you really, we don't have any artists to sell a million). Of the 36 IFPI Platinum Awards presented to million selling albums across Europe this week, 19 went to British artists, including The Kooks, Sugababes, Katie Melua, Coldplay and Robbie Williams. Robbie, in fact, takes three of the awards - with 'Intensive Care', 'Greatest Hits' and 'Rudebox' all passing million sales landmarks in 2006. The latter, in fact, sold over 2 million in its first week of sale, and this despite much reported fears that the more eclectic new long player from the "troubled" Robbie Williams (TM the 3am Girls) would not sell so well.

Commenting on the Awards, Peter Jamieson of UK record label trade body BPI, told CMU: "These latest figures confirm that we are going through a golden age for new British music, even by our own high standards. The success UK music is enjoying today bodes well for future years because as ever in music, it's the hits of today which pay for the hits of tomorrow."

For all you list fans out there, here's the full list of the 19 Euro best sellers from UK artists, including the "level" of their award (ie James Blunt's album went 'five times platinum' - or past the 5 million sales landmark - in 2006).

James Blunt - Back To Bedlam (Warner/Atlantic) - 5
Robbie Williams - Greatest Hits (EMI/Chrysalis) - 5
Robbie Williams - Intensive Care (EMI/Chrysalis) - 5
Coldplay - X&Y (EMI/Parlophone) - 4
Coldplay - Parachutes (EMI/Parlophone) - 4
Radiohead - OK Computer (EMI/Parlophone) - 3
Gorillaz - Demon Days (EMI/Parlophone) - 2
Kaiser Chiefs - Employment (Universal/Polydor) - 2
Katie Melua - Piece By Piece (Dramatico) - 2
KT Tunstall - Eye To The Telescope (Relentless) - 2
Robbie Williams - Rudebox (EMI/Chrysalis) - 2
Rod Stewart - The Story So Far (Warner/Rhino Records) - 2
Corinne Bailey Rae - Corinne Bailey Rae (EMI) - 1
Keane - Under The Iron Sea (Universal/Island) - 1
Muse - Black Holes & Revelations (Warner) - 1
Snow Patrol - Eyes Open (Universal/Fiction) - 1
Sugababes - Taller In More Ways (Universal/Island) - 1
The Kooks - Inside In/Inside Out (EMI/Virgin) - 1
The Rolling Stones - A Bigger Bang (EMI/Virgin) - 1

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DOHERTY FINED FOR ASSAULT
Pete Doherty has been fined £750 for assaulting a BBC reporter, as previously reported, back in March. He has also been ordered to pay £250 compensation plus £200 in court costs. The singer, appearing at Thames Magistrates' Court, pleaded guilty to kicking a microphone out of Trudi Barber's hand when he appeared outside, er, Thames Magistrates' Court, following a court appearance there earlier this year.

Doherty originally entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of assaulting Barber, a reporter for Radio 1's Newsbeat, but according to his lawyer, Sean Curran, changed his stance after he watched television footage of the incident. In a statement, the Babyshambles star said: "If I hurt this lady I'm sorry," but was also heard to refer to her as one of the "harassing scum of press".

Magistrate Helen Skinner said: "Referring to the press as scum does no one any favours. You were obviously courting publicity judging by your somewhat extravagant behaviour outside the court. People in public life have a responsibility to behave and be a good role model to others."

Doherty told the court he couldn't pay his fine, as he only had 27p on him. He has been ordered to make the payment within a week.

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JACKO TO PERFORM THRILLER AT AWARDS GIG
Michael Jackson is apparently to celebrate his return to public performance with a rendition of his most famous hit. The singer, who, as previously reported, is to appear at the World Music Awards in London on 15 Nov, will give a performance of 'Thriller' during his set at the event, reportedly recreating the legendary video.

Jackson has made very few public appearances in recent years, of course. A spokeswoman for the World Music Awards, at which the pop star will receive a Diamond Award for contribution to music, said: "It's his first performance in a long time. It's something of a comeback if you like."

According to reports, Jackson is planning a new album which is expected to be released next year.

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G-UNIT WEAPONS CHARGES DROPPED
Prosecutors have dropped gun possession charges previously brought against G-Unit rappers Young Buck and Lloyd Banks, after investigations determined that they had not been in possession of weapons when they were arrested last year following a gig at Madison Square Garden. Banks says: "This whole experience reminds me of the title of my new album - 'Rotten Apple' ".

According to the police, Young Buck, real name David Brown, and Lloyd Banks, aka Chris Lloyde were in a van with several other men back in August 2005 when it ran a red light in Manhattan. Stopping the vehicle, officers said they discovered a loaded handgun and another weapon. Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the DA, explained that another suspect has pleaded guilty in the case, whilst another remains under indictment.

Young Buck is, of course, still on three years probation after pleading guilty to that previously reported stabbing at the 2004 Vibe Awards.

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FEDERLINE TO FIGHT FOR CUSTODY
Britney Spears' soon-to-be ex husband Kevin Federline is to fight her for sole custody of their two children. The would-be rapper has filed a response to Britney's divorce suit, in which he states that he will seek custody of sons Sean Preston and Jayden James as well as requesting spousal support. His lawyers say: "Kevin is prepared to go the distance in order to do what he feels is necessary to protect and safeguard the children and will not be intimidated or dissuaded from pursuit of those goals."

It's also emerged that Federline reportedly discovered via text message that Spears had filed her divorce petition, whilst appearing on a TV reality show, so the moment, caught on film, is no doubt already available to view on YouTube.

It's not been a good week for him, actually. He's had to make a payment to Thomas Dolby over the unauthorised use of a sample from 'She Blinded Me With Science' which appears in the Federline's track 'America's Most Wanted'. His album appears to have bombed, nobody is going to his concerts and he's been giving tickets away.

In an interview given a day or two before Britney filed, he blamed her career for stymieing his, saying that the public don't like him - ""They saw this street kid. The world doesn't want that for Britney Spears. That's their queen. They don't want some dude that looks like a hoodlum ... They want her to be with the all-American boy."

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MADONNA'S BRUISE
Madonna is reportedly 'suffering' from a bruised cheek after she got shoved around by the paparazzi when she arrived at Heathrow at the weekend. The singer was carrying her newly adopted baby, David Banda, through the airport when the incident occurred. A source said: "She had the baby in her arms when it happened. When she landed in London, there was a lot of pushing and shoving. She was jostled around. She got hit in the paparazzi's commotion. Thank God the baby is OK".

Elsewhere, the singer is quoted as saying that she thinks her high profile adoption of the Malawian child has done more good than what all those other celebrities do - ie, being UN goodwill ambassadors.

She told Time Magazine: "Look, I could have joined the UN and become an ambassador and visited various countries and just kind of showed up and smiled. But that's not getting to the root of the problem. And, by the way, neither is building an orphan care centre and giving people food and medicine. But it's a start. Which is better? That I found out about an issue and instantly wanted to take action, or that it took me years to get my shit together?"

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X FACTOR WINNER WILL ENTER RACE FOR CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE
Well, good news for anyone who's put a bet on the X Factor winner getting the Christmas number one. SonyBMG have confirmed that the winner's debut single will be released in time for the Christmas chart (on Wednesday 20 Dec). Previously it was unclear whether the show's producers intended to follow previous years' protocol and speed out the winner's debut release before Christmas.

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YEAH YEAH WRITERS SIGN TO NOTTING HILL
London based publishing house Notting Hill Music has signed up the people behind that Bodyrox track 'Yeah Yeah' to an exclusive long term publishing deal. The songwriters in question are Jon Pearn and Nick Bridges. Confirming the publishing deal, Notting Hill boss Andy McQueen told reporters: "Jon and Nick are red hot at the moment and their signing is a real coup for Notting Hill. 'Yeah Yeah' is a huge hit and we are confident that there are plenty more where that came from!"

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CORGAN PLAYS SHORT SET FOR IN THE ATTIC
Having been out of the public eye for a while performing wise, Smashing Pumpkins man Billy Corgan took to the stage in LA the other night to play a short set for the In The Attic series - the webcast project run by Pete Townshend and his girlfriend Rachel Fuller.

Writing on her In the Attic blog, Fuller reports that Corgan was pretty nervous, having not performed live for the best part of twelve months. She wrote: "Billy hadn't played a live show for a long time, over a year. He was nervous - I like that, it shows real humility as an artist of his calibre. His set was mind-fuckingly brilliant and his humour dry and incredibly funny".

Despite his banter, Corgan didn't comment on the new Smashing Pumpkins album which, as previously reported, he and Jimmy Chamberlin are currently collaborating on.

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SUGABABES TOUR
Sugababes have announced that they'll be going on a greatest hits tour next year, dates as follows. 'Overloaded - The Singles Collection' is out on 13 Nov.

27 Mar: Dublin Point
28 Mar: Belfast Waterfront
30 Mar: Birmingham NEC
31 Mar: Manchester MEN
1 Apr: Nottingham Arena
3 Apr: Bournemouth Centre
4 Apr: Plymouth Pavilions
6 Apr: Cardiff Arena
7 Apr: Sheffield Arena
9 Apr: Glasgow SECC
10 Apr: Newcastle Arena
12 Apr: Brighton Centre
13 Apr: London Wembley Arena

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YETI TOUR
Yeti, the band of former Libertine John Hassall, obviously, have announced five gigs as follows...

4 Dec: Manchester Joshua Brooks
5 Dec: Liverpool Barfly
6 Dec: Cardiff Barfly
8 Dec: Birmingham Barfly
15 Dec: London Barfly

More at http://www.myspace.com/yetiintelligence or http://www.yetiintelligence.com.

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EARLY BIRD TICKETS ON SALE FOR BIG CHILL
So, it's November now, time to start talking about next year's festival season, surely? With that in mind, we can tell you that as of yesterday a limited release of 5000 tickets went on sale for next year's Big Chill festival, which will take place at the Eastnor Castle Deer Park in Herefordshire from 3-5 Aug. The early bird tickets will be available at 2006 prices.

On what is planned for next year's event, a Big Chill insider told CMU: "Lots of surprises are being planned. What we can tell you is that there'll be a carnival procession. Who'll wear the crown? Face the public vote on site, voters will vote for the festival King and Queen! Details of how to apply for the crown will feature on www.bigchill.net. There'll be circus acrobatics, luggage porters and, in response to all the feedback, the Big Chill 2007 is staying the same size (we sold 3,000 more tickets this summer, licensed capacity is 35k)".

The tickets are on sale via Ticketline on 08700 667 733, or from the URL below, press info from sam@bigchill.net.

http://www.ticketlinenews.co.uk/order/step1.php?id=13210448

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EARLY BIRD TICKETS ON SALE FOR OXEGEN
While we're at it - early bird tickets are on sale for Ireland's Oxegen Festival too, also at 2006 prices. This takes place at the Punchestown Racecourse just outside of Dublin on 7 and 8 Jul.

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NASTYFEST LINE UP
A festival type event slightly closer to now is Leeds' Nastyfest IV, one of those come and see the buzz bands play type affairs. Previous acts to play include The Futureheads, Hot Chip, The Cribs, The Long Blondes and Plan B. This year's event, on 18 Nov at The Faversham in Leeds, will include appearances from Lupen Crook, Hot Club De Paris, The Longcut, Hadouken!, The Whip, and Yes Boss.

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TIDY NEW YEAR'S WEEKEND
If we're already reporting on next year's festival season, then we should definitely be reporting on New Year type stuff. The Tidy Weekender people are staging a special three day bash for the New Year's Eve weekend - ie 30 Dec to 1 Jan - at the Pontins holiday village in Blackpool. On the bill are Edison Factor (Live), Paul Maddox (Live), the Tidy Boys, Anne Savage, Mark EG, Lisa Pin-Up, Lee Haslam, Amber D, Andy Whitby, the Organ Donors, Andy Farley, Rob Tissera, Steve Thomas and, just added, Sarah G, Kutski, and Sam Townend & Deano. More info at http://www.tidy.com/nye or by calling 0870 777 2652.

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LIVE REVIEW: The Knife at The Forum on 14 Oct
As a former theatre, The Forum is probably the most appropriate venue for the only UK date from the thespian-esque Swedish electronic duo, The Knife. A rising profile, fashionista approval and general critical acclaim for their live experience means that this 2000 plus capacity gig has sold out long ago, and anticipation is high. A pitch-black stage welcomes the audience before pulse-racing bass ripples round the room and The Knife take to the stage in jet-black lycra suits and vulture masks. A see-through fabric screen projects neon lines in front of the band while videos play on the screen behind them to songs from the new album ('Silent Shout', 'Like A Pen', 'We Share Our Mothers Health'), the second album (a dub-heavy version of 'Heartbeats') and - the standout track of the evening - 'Kino', from their debut. Ravers, bobbers and mere appreciators are packed into the venue and everyone seems to have their own way of enjoying it, which is, perhaps, their most endearing aspect. OS

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EMI LABEL LAUNCH BOYBAND VIA HABBO HOTEL
You don't hear so much about Habbo Hotel in these days of MySpace and YouTube, but apparently 6.6 million unique users still log on to the 3D chat room each month, 750,000 in the UK. And EMI label Innocent are hoping to turn as many of those chatters onto their latest boy band outfit 365 who release their debut single 'One Touch' next week. They have got a partnership going with Habbo which will promote the release and establish a kind of 'virtual street team' for the band.

Mike Dowuona, Digital Media Manager of EMI's Angel Music Group, of which Innocent is a member, told reporters: "Whilst other channels such as MySpace and Bebo work well in promoting urban artists and indie bands, Habbo Hotel's demographic is an ideal fit for pure pop artists such as 365. Habbo Hotel is the ideal platform to launch 365, taking the band directly to their target audience in a fresh, fun and interactive way".

It's not the first time an EMI label has used Habbo Hotel as a promotional tool. A couple of years ago the major's Parlophone division promoted virtual band Gorillaz through the chat site.

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MOBILE TICKETING SERVICE ANNOUNCES LATEST GIGS
I'm not sure this really counts as news but, what the hell, it's a quiet week industry news wise, so let's run with it. Nokia's mobile ticketing service TicketRush has announced it will be selling tickets for upcoming London gigs from Bullet For My Valentine, CSS, Dragonforce and Cradle Of Filth. There, ground breaking stuff. The gigs will take place at the London Apollo, Forum and the Astoria.

This is news, or at least so the press release says, because: "This is the first time that ticketrush.co.uk will release mobile tickets for multiple gigs across three venues. With these top London live music venues now embracing ticketrush.co.uk technology, this is another huge step forward in the development of mobile ticketing".

As previously reported, Ticketrush is one of the companies providing mobile ticketing solutions to the live sector, where fans get tickets sent to their mobile phones which are then scanned at the venue. Consumers who sign up to the service also have advance access to tickets for certain gigs, as well as receiving text alerts of last minute ticket availability for their favourite artists.

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NAPSTER, SUBSCRIBERS DOWN, BUT LOSSES DOWN TOO
More financials for you. Napster has narrowed its losses during the last quarter, despite a decline in subscriber base. Revenues for the quarter up to the end of September were up 9% on the same period the previous year, helping bring losses down by 33.7% to $9 million. The decline in subscriber base is perhaps to be expected, given the launch of the Napster ad funded destination site in the US, which offers free music previews, and which competes, in an albeit limited way, with the company's full pay-to-use service. Whether the balancing act between maximising traffic, and therefore ad sales, on the destination site while trying to upgrade that traffic to full subscriptions can be done successfully remains to be seen.

Needless to say, Napster boss Chris Gorog remained upbeat, telling CMU: "We're pleased to report that Napster.com's unique visitation grew 42% in the second quarter, which provides us with the opportunity to continue to grow our new ad supported free music service and simultaneously deliver positive paid subscriber growth throughout the balance of our fiscal year. We believe the dramatic growth projected for music-enabled cell phones will provide a very significant growth driver for Napster going forward. Our recent launches [in the US and Japan] with Cingular and DoCoMo, two of the largest wireless carriers in the world, provide us with a great jump-start into the mobile market and will make Napster's subscription service and mobile offerings available to over 100 million mobile customers. We look forward to continuing to aggressively expand the footprint for Napster Mobile and will be announcing additional carriers before the end of the year."

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NTL TO REBRAND AS VIRGIN MEDIA
NTL has announced it will relaunch as Virgin Media in the first quarter of 2007, and with a lovely new logo too. NTL, of course, recently took over Virgin Mobile so they can offer a combined phone, mobile, TV and broadband package. At the time of the deal it was expected that the combined company would adopt the Virgin name, it having a considerably better reputation than NTL, presumably.

Confirming the rebrand, NTL top bloke Steve Burch told reporters: "Virgin Media will shake up the market by bringing the Virgin traditions of value-for-money, brilliant customer service and innovation to the world of entertainment and communications. While work remains to be done between now and the re-brand, our decision to announce its name and logo today is a reflection of my confidence that we're well on the way to creating an organisation that can live up to this vision by consistently putting the consumer first."

Lending their backing to the rebrand, Gordon McCallum of Branson's Virgin Management holding company, that still has a stake and board presence in the merged NTL/Telewest/Virgin Mobile company, added: "Taking on the Virgin brand is about much more than a new name and logo above the door. NTL Telewest's management team has consistently demonstrated that it understands this and the commitment that's needed to succeed. Much has already been achieved and we're confident that the company's on track to deliver the Virgin promise when we re-brand next year."

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FREEVIEW REBRAND TOO
Also launching a new identity is Freeview, the terrestrial digital TV network, because insiders reckon a nice new logo and slogan will convince more telly viewers to sign up to digital (a recent survey showed that more terrestrial TV sets are still be sold than digital ones, meaning that, even though there's an ever increasing number of households with access to digital television, there's also an ever increasing number of sets accessing traditional analogue television broadcasts - don't expect those broadcasts to be turned off anytime soon, despite the government's ambitious proposals to do so).

Freeview say their new look and strapline - "Free TV Land - where great TV is free" - will "create a stronger ongoing relationship between the viewer and Freeview by emphasising the values that consumers love the most". Their Head Of Strategic Marketing, Liz Reynolds, adds: "Free TV Land celebrates everything that viewers love about Freeview. We're seen as the home of free digital TV and our new creative gives us a more defined personality and identity, enabling us to build a stronger ongoing relationship with our viewers."

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NOEL GALLAGHER HARKS BACK TO THE OLD DAYS
Noel Gallagher has yet again proved that he's getting old by criticising the current generation of songwriters for relying too much on technology.

He told NME: "This generation of kids just rely on the technology - that's what they want. These days you can see fucking Johnny Borrell in his pants going through the bass parts, and that just strips away the magic for me."

And continued: "Everyone just wants more and more information. All the fantasy's gone out of music, 'cos everything is too fucking real. Every album comes with a DVD with some cunt going, 'Yeah well, we tried the drums over there, but...' Give a shit, man! It makes people seem too human, whereas I was brought up on Marc Bolan and David Bowie, and it was like, 'Do they actually come from fucking Mars?'"

To be fair, I think he might have a point with what he says about the DVDs. I can't help thinking that anyone who has the time to sit watching that sort of stuff maybe needs to get out more. See that? I agreed with Noel Gallagher. Which means it might be a touch chilly in hell today.

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GENESIS GUITARIST ON TOUR
Original Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, who left the band in 1976, has released a statement explaining why he won't be taking part in the upcoming reunion tour featuring the line up of Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks.

Hackett says: "First of all I would like to congratulate Tony, Mike and Phil for flying the flag once again. Good luck to them and I really hope they have a very successful tour. I was originally approached to discuss the possibility of a five piece which would have included Peter Gabriel and yours truly but since Peter's schedule precludes this, it makes sense for the other three to celebrate the band in their 'own special way' as it were ...."

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DIXIE CHICKS TAKE SHOTS AT BUSH
Well, I might, if I were the Dixie Chicks. The band, who famously got on the receiving end of a pretty severe backlash after band member Natalie Maines criticised US president George W Bush at a concert in London, have poked fun at the current US administration following their pasting in the recent mid-term elections.

Natalie Maines, addressing fans at a gig in Vancouver said: "Either the beer is free or you're happy that Donald Rumsfeld resigned today". She also picked out fans wearing tee-shirts with the initials FUGB on them, asking "What does it mean?" She also told the crowd about a sign she'd seen at the band's concert in Saskatoon which read "Nobody likes a nasty Bush?"

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EMINEM ON RELATIONSHIP WITH CAREY
I am sure this 'news' has been knocking around for a while, but all the gossipers seem to be gossiping about it right now, so it's probably our duty to let you know that Eminem insists that he had a seven month relationship with Mariah Carey, which ended because she's a bit of a diva. He has apparently been provoked into talking about it because he's annoyed that she has always denied that it happened.

According to reports, he said on his own satellite radio show: "Yes, me and Mariah did have a relationship for about a good six or seven months. But it didn't work. I wasn't really into what she was into - our personalities collided. She's a diva and I'm a little more regular I guess. I can never deny her talent but the fact that she denied we ever had something, that's bad."

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GIRLS ALOUD SINGER IS NEW FACE OF ULTIMO
Girl Aloud Sarah Harding is the new 'face' of lingerie line Ultimo. Although just how much people will be looking at her face in that context is possibly debatable.

The singer follows Rachel Hunter and Helena Christensen in being a front-model for the brand, created by Glasgow entrepreneur Michelle Mone. Harding says: "When Michelle asked me to become the new face and body of the brand, I was so honoured and extremely excited. I loved working with her and the team. The Ultimo lingerie is gorgeous."

Mone says: "Sarah had never modelled before, however she was fantastic on the day of the shoot. She was signed to appeal to a younger market and to further demonstrate Ultimo's ability to enhance a woman's confidence, both inside and out."

See pictures of Sarah in her underwear here: http://www.ultimodirect.com.

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KANYE WEST APOLOGISES, WAS PISSED
Kanye West has apologized for his behaviour at the MTV Europe Awards in Denmark last week. As I'm sure you all remember, West stormed onto the stage following the announcement that Justice Vs Simian had won the best video award, and not him, and said that he ought to have won it, telling the crowd: "If I don't win, the awards show loses credibility. Nothing against you [the winners], but hell man."

Now West has addressed an apology to the winners: "I don't have anything against the group that won. I'm gonna download their album right now. I didn't mean to be offensive in any way. I love you guys. I never heard of you [but] I am your friend."

He explains that his behaviour was due to: "a little sippy sippy before the show and more sippy sippy after the show."

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