CMU Daily - on the inside Tuesday 28th November
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Industry responds to reports Gowers won't back copyright extension
- Alan Freeman dies
- Thousands mourn Elizade
- Editors on new album
- Kristin Hersh album incoming
- Moby on new album
- Ash man says new album nearly there
- Bis announce reunion
- Panic! On sacked bassist
- Big Boi to star in new film
- Pull Tiger Tail free downloads
- Single review: The Little Ones - Lovers Who Uncover
- Elton John vomits
- First acts announced for Aussie V Festival
- Badly Drawn Boy February tour
- Keane single
- NME announce line up for double awards tour
- Carling Sessions next week
- Coldplay man surprise guest at final Little Noise Session
- Eagles Of Death Metal dropped from GnR support
- Single review: The Killers - Bones
- Iceland slashes VAT on music
- Demand high for Shuffle on Black Friday
- Could the Beatles, in fact, launch online via iTunes?
- UBC ready to launch radio downloads platform
- US puts more pressure on Russia over copyright
- ITV steal BBC's top man
- BT to launch TV on demand service next week
- Pam splits from Rock

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VOTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE TRACK OF THE YEAR
Email in song title, artist and a sentence on why it's your favourite to
2006@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk

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TOP BIT>>
Well, given that everyone else is talking about copyright extensions, let's talk about something else. Radio company UBC has announced that it is now ready to launch its radio download service, which we've reported on before here in the Daily. This is the service that allows people listening to digital radio to download tracks they are hearing on their favourite station by pressing a button on their radio set. The track will be downloaded, if the listener so chooses, to the radio set itself as well as the user's mobile phone and an internet account.

It's an interesting service which UBC reckon will open up downloading to a whole new demographic, to the mainstream audience who can't be bothered working out how to use download platforms currently available online or via mobile. And they may just be right. Though the success of the whole venture does depend on a number of factors.

First, despite what the digital radio lobby will tell you, the take up of DAB digital radio has been quite slow so far, and I know some people in radio sector that now say that the DAB system that the UK radio industry has invested so much in is ultimately set to fail - especially if satellite radio services like those taking off big time in the US arrive over here. Then again, those in the DAB world will argue that it is services like UBC's download platform that will make digital radio a more attractive proposition to the mainstream consumer - and unlike satellite radio services, DAB requires a one off hardware purchase, with no subscription charges.

Second, while UBC do seem to have put much effort into making their service as user friendly as possible, they will presumably suffer from the same problem faced by every other non-Apple owned download platform - the majors won't let them sell MP3s, Apple won't let them sell their encoded AAC files, meaning their downloads will not be iPod compatible. This is still a major problem, though UBC might argue that their target demographic is so different than that of iTunes, Zune, Napster et al that it will be less of a problem for them (the average cheese fm listener, you might assume, has yet to invest in a digital music device, so is not currently tied to Apple).

Third, there is the issue of price. When I first came across it I was under the impression that the UBC service would be considerably more expensive than iTunes et al, with the radio download outfit relying on the theory that people will pay a premium for the convenience their platform offers. I'm never entirely sure that theory stacks up - though, that said, latest reports about the radio download service suggest that it will, actually, be pretty competitively priced compared to online download shops.

But, let's assume that it all comes together, and UBC's download platform proves popular and brings a whole new audience into the digital music market place. Let's say mainstream music fans do start buying music via their radio stations of choice. What will be interesting then will be what impact that will have on negotiations between the radio sector and royalty bodies like PPL and PRS.

Radio stations like to tell the music industry that they are one of the record labels' best marketing tools, and that therefore they should receive a favorable rate when it comes to the fees they have to pay labels and publishers to feature music in their programmes. The music industry has disputed this claim more and more in recent years, recognising that as profits from record sales become less secure, revenues from broadcast royalty fees become more important. But what if the radio sector could tangibly prove that they really were helping record labels sell their music, by actually selling it via their own integrated download platform? Where would the balance of power lie then? Would the labels and publishers be forced into giving more favourable rates on radio royalty fees?

So, UBC's albeit unproven download ambitions are very exciting for the music business, but while they might boost one revenue stream for labels and publishers, they might just cut another.

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CLASSIFIEDS>>

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CMU RECOMMENDS>>

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

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MYSPACE OF THE DAY: THE FURIES

I'm in the mood for something a bit rocky today, and The Furies rock. They really do. I've been aware of them for some time, and it suddenly struck me, on hearing the news that they have just recorded a brand new EP for release next year, that they've never been MySpace Of The Day, and that simply won't do. I'm hoping to go and hear them play in December (they have a few dates lined up for the next couple of months, so check them out here) as long as I don't die first, or anything. Have a look in the pics gallery too, because they've got lots of amusing images in there. Most importantly, though, listen to the tracks. Because they're good. And remember to lay hands to that EP once it's out - will let you know exactly when as soon as I have a date.

http://www.myspace.com/thefuriesmyspace

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INDUSTRY RESPONDS TO REPORTS GOWERS WON'T BACK COPYRIGHT EXTENSION
Although Andrew Gowers' previously reported government commissioned review of UK intellectual property laws will not now formally publish its report until next week, the media yesterday reported as fact that Gowers will not back calls by the record industry to extend the recorded copyright in the UK from 50 to 95 years. As previously reported, with a stack of fifties rock n roll recordings coming out of copyright each week, UK artists and record labels had lobbied Gowers to support a change in copyright terms to bring Britain in line with the US, however it now seems unlikely he will make that recommendation to government.

With that in mind, key industry associations quickly moved onto a new stage of lobbying yesterday, publicly calling on the government to ignore Gowers' recommendations should he oppose the copyright extension. BPI boss Peter Jamieson told reporters: "The BPI has not yet seen the Gowers report, but if the media leaks are correct it would appear that the Gowers Review has missed a great opportunity to support the UK's music industry - both the musicians who make a living out of music and the companies who invest in them. But it is really the responses of the Treasury, Department Of Trade & Industry and Department of Culture, Media & Sport and not the recommendations of an independent report, that we are most interested in. It's in the government's power to ignore such a recommendation and they should do so. There can be no rationale for discriminating against performing artists - a vital part of the creative mix - nor can it be possible to justify disadvantaging Britain and Europe in the global music market. The sound recording is as important a copyright as musical composition and film, and deserves a similar lifespan."

Fran Nevrkla of recording rights society PPL, meanwhile, observed that Gowers "had got things very wrong", adding: "I sincerely hope this government will have the moral fibre and courage to support talent, creativity, investment and success and will not duck this critical issue by conveniently hiding behind academics and other 'thinkers', many of whom wish to see copyright downgraded if not destroyed".

The Open Rights Group, one of the organisations opposing the extension of the copyright term, said it was "encouraged and delighted by the news", while Andrew Hobson of London law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP told reporters that Gowers' recommendations were not surprising, because any extension of copyrights would be an EU wide issue, and therefore outside the remit of the current review. He said: "Britain could never have unilaterally extended the period of performer's protection and complied with its EU obligations. It is true that this period is much less generous than that given to the authors/composers of the songs but that is the policy decision that has been taken. To change that will require the will of all 25 EU member states."

But John Kennedy of the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry, in a quite lengthy and very critical response to Gowers' rumoured conclusion, said that he felt there was a mood for copyright extension across Europe, and that formal UK support for such an extension, while not essential, would speed up moves for an EU wide change in copyright. He told reporters: "If the Gowers Review has indeed decided not to recommend the equalisation of the Copyright Term then that is a big disappointment, but not a complete surprise to the music industry. There have been rumours for a time - founded or unfounded - that Mr Gowers did not think it appropriate. However, this report is only a recommendation, and it is the government that will make the final decision".

He continued: "At the end of the day, it will be an interesting test of how future Labour governments will conduct business. The UK music industry has thrived over the years, producing great talent, paying taxes, generating employment and maximising overseas revenues. The music industry is facing tremendous challenges but even now the UK music industry punches above its weight on the international stage. I have often asked on behalf of the UK music industry: 'Shouldn't we have a government that each day, when it comes to work, asks itself "What can we do for industry?"' Copyright equalisation is one of the few things the music industry has seriously asked the government for over the years. Now the Treasury has to decide whether or not it wants to support one of its successful industries. If the UK government decides not to support copyright equalisation, then the music industry will have to continue its campaign in Europe. There the signs are encouraging but there is no doubt that there will be raised eyebrows and the question will be asked 'Why should Europe help the music industry when the government of the most important music market in Europe and the government of EMI has decided not to?'"

Laying on the pressure, he concluded: "UK and European governments give speech after speech talking about the importance of the knowledge economy. A decision not to equalise the Copyright Term would confirm that there is no real belief in these words. We have let our manufacturing industry slip away. Will we now show the same lack of support for our creative industries?"

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ALAN FREEMAN DIES
Veteran DJ Alan 'Fluff' Freeman has died at the age of 79. The former BBC radio presenter passed away peacefully at the Brinsworth House nursing home in Twickenham, where he'd been living since 2000, when he was diagnosed with arthritis.

Freeman was born and educated in Melbourne and originally wanted to be an opera singer. He decided that he didn't have the necessary vocal talent, however, and in 1952 began work as an announcer at an Australian radio station. In 1957, he took nine months off from his employment in Melbourne to travel, and never went back, beginning his UK career shortly thereafter on Radio Luxembourg. He joined the BBC in 1960.

His 'Pick Of The Pops' programme - which generated his catchphrase "greetings, pop pickers" - began in 1962 and ran for ten years, before it was revived in 1979. Over a fifty year career, Freeman worked on a number of stations including Radio 1, Radio 2, Capital, Virgin and Xfm, and engendered respect from colleagues across the industry, including the late great John Peel, who once described Freeman as "the greatest out-and-out disc jockey of them all". He was awarded the CBE in 1998.

Freeman's personal manager Tim Blackmore said: "Alan was a naturally warm man who never quite understood the nature of his appeal. He cared passionately for music of all kinds, for his family and for his friends. Yet through all his professional success, he still retained a total bewilderment that so much success and affection should have come his way. His was the creation of the chart countdown, his was the stunning combination of rock music and classical music, and his was the creation of minimalism in the art of the DJ. We will not see his like again, and our debt in response to his contribution is without equal".

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THOUSANDS MOURN ELIZADE
Thousands of fans have turned out to mourn Mexican singer Valentin Elizade, murdered at the weekend in an apparent mob hit. A large crowd gathered in Elizade's home town Jitonhueca and watched as his coffin arrived by plane and was then given a police escort.

The twenty seven year old singer had just performed at a small open air festival in the country's border town of Reynosa on Saturday when the van he was travelling in with manager Mario Mendoza and driver Raymundo Ballesteros was ambushed and pumped with bullets. All three men were killed. Police have not as yet confirmed details of the killing, however.

Elizade was a practitioner of the accordion based music style known as norteno, banda, or grupero, and frequently covered the topic of drugs in his lyrics. A message on his website reads: "We appreciated all the displays of solidarity and affection from fans, friends and the media. Rest in peace, Valentin Elizalde".

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EDITORS ON NEW ALBUM
Editors have confirmed that they have begun recording tracks for their new album, and are hard at work in Ireland with U2 producer Jacknife Lee. They're planning to eat mince pies over Christmas, though. They are. Mmmm. Mince pies.

The band's Tom Smith said: "The album won't be finished before Christmas but the break will give us chance to see our families, eat mince pies, get drunk and say hi to Santa, then maybe some more writing before we start recording again in the New Year."

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KRISTIN HERSH ALBUM INCOMING
Kristin Hersh is planning to release 'Learn To Sing Like A Star', her first solo work since the release of 2003's 'The Grotto', in Febraury of next year. Hersh will showcase tracks from the new album at a London gig at the Arts Theatre on 11 Jan, at which she will perform the long player in its entirety.

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MOBY ON NEW ALBUM
Moby has been talking about his next album, the follow up to 2005's 'Hotel', and its mix of musical genres and the benefits of working at home.

He told Chart Attack: "The thing about having a home studio is that you can go into your studio and create the music you want to create. So I can go in and make punk rock songs or dance songs or minimal experimental pieces. The hard part is trying to figure out what songs are good enough to be on the record. I think my criteria now is less stylistic and more qualitative you know, which songs will make the best record, not really what genre they'll be in."

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ASH MAN SAYS NEW ALBUM NEARLY THERE
Ash man Tim Wheeler says that his band are close to finishing their fifth album, and that they have nine potential singles to choose from. The group are currently working in their studio in Manhattan, and Wheeler has recorded vocals for four songs so far, and says he hopes to have fourteen finished by the end of the month.

In an interview on the Ash official website Wheeler said: "I'm going to try to do a song every day. I've got the first draft of lyrics from when we did the demos, but there are verses I wanna change and lines that I wasn't totally happy with. So I'll go through and edit everything, spend an afternoon just working on a particular song's lyrics and then sing that song that night. There's one song, 'Shattered Glass', which we recorded already in the summer, but I want to redo two of the verses for that, just to get them better. And then there are 13 others to do."

He concluded: "By the end of January it should be completely mixed. Then the record company needs four months to do all the preparation for release."

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BIS ANNOUNCE REUNION
Hurrah, Scottish band Bis are to reunite for two special gigs next year to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the release of their debut, 'Transistor Heroes'. The gigs will take place at King Tuts in their hometown of Glasgow on 6 Apr, and in London on 7 Apr at a venue yet to be confirmed. The news was announced by singer Manda Rin, who posted the information on the forum of post-Bis band dataPanik, also defunct after only two single releases. Bis formed, of course, in 1994, and split back in 2003.

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PANIC! ON SACKED BASSIST
Panic! At The Disco have spoken to NME.com about Brent Wilson's departure from the band earlier this year. Guitarist Ryan Ross explained: "It was tough, because we all went to high school together. It just got to a point where it didn't seem like he was taking it seriously and was along for the ride. And he started to get into things we weren't happy about. It was a hard decision, but with Jon in the band now, we know it was the right decision."

Replacement bassist Jon Walker, meanwhile, told Popmatters: "This band is everything to these guys, so it's not fair to them if someone in the band can't keep up."

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BIG BOI TO STAR IN NEW FILM
OutKast star Big Boi is working on a new independent film 'Who's Your Caddy?' The rapper stars as an Atlantan hip hop mogul who tries to join a conservative country club in the Carolinas, but comes up against opposition from the president of the club. His acting career seems to be gaining a bit of momentum in fact, as he's also to appear in three episodes of US sitcom 'Girlfriends' - although admittedly, he is playing himself.

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PULL TIGER TAIL FREE DOWNLOADS
B-unique signings Pull Tiger Tail are making not one, oh no, not one, but two free tracks available for download. The first, a demo version of track called 'Loki' is available to anyone who signs up to the previously reported new download platform from the Rough Trade record shops (you don't have to pay to sign up, so it is free). The second, a track called 'Mr 100 Percent', will be available to download from the band's website, http://www.pulltigertail.com, from 11 Dec.

The band also have a number of gigs upcoming, mainly with The Blood Arm. Dates as follows...

28 Nov: Glasgow King Tuts (with The Blood Arm)
29 Nov: Manchester Night & Day (with The Blood Arm)
30 Nov: Sheffield The Plug (with The Blood Arm)
1 Dec: Liverpool Barfly (headline)
3 Dec: Belfast Speak Easy (with The Blood Arm)
4 Dec: Dublin Crawdaddy (with The Blood Arm)
5 Dec: Nottingham Social (with The Blood Arm)
6 Dec: London Kings College (with The Blood Arm)
8 Dec: London Barfly (Levi's Ones To Watch)

Press info and all that jazz from Nile On.

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SINGLE REVIEW: The Little Ones - Lovers who uncover (EMI/Heavenly)
It's a shame it's winter, because this is one brilliantly happy summer tune, skating along with ringing guitar chords, handclaps and soulful chants, it'll help cheer up these dark, wet and windy days. This is the debut from LA guitar poppers The Little Ones and it's nice to hear something positive, reflecting on good feelings with a crystal clear, distinctive voice that glides effortlessly through an upbeat and energetic number, telling you that everything is OK and anything is possible. If you want to feel good, then let the The Little Ones help. KN
Release date: 27 Nov
Press contact: EMI IH [all]

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ELTON JOHN VOMITS
Nice. Elton John was forced to leave the stage in the middle of a concert in Brisbane at the weekend, because he felt sick. He came back five minutes later though. Because he's a trooper.

He then explained the situation to his audience: "I thought I'd better chunder in the toilet rather than all over the front row".

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FIRST ACTS ANNOUNCED FOR AUSSIE V FESTIVAL
Talking of live music in Australia, though with less sick, the first acts have been announced for the V Festival set to take place in Sydney next year, and amongst those on the bill are the likes of Gnarls Barkley, The Rapture, Groove Armada, Pixies, and The Pet Shop Boys.

The Sydney event takes place on 31 Mar at the city's Centennial Park, with a second day taking place in Queensland on 1 Apr. As previously reported, Richard Branson is intent on spreading V Festivals around the world, events having already taken place in the US and Canada, with further expansion into Europe and South America expected.

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BADLY DRAWN BOY FEBRUARY TOUR
Badly Drawn Boy, whose latest album 'Born In The UK' was released at the end of last month, has confirmed the following live dates:

11 Feb: Olympia, Dublin
12 Feb: Mandela Hall, Belfast
13 Feb: Queens Theatre, Edinburgh
16 Feb: Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
17 Feb: St George's Hall, Bristol
19 Feb: City Varieties, Leeds
20 Feb: Sage Theatre, Gateshead
23 Feb: Stockport Plaza

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KEANE SINGLE
Keane have confirmed that their next single, 'A Bad Dream' will be released on 22 Jan. The band are on tour that month, dates as follows:

22 Feb: Bournemouth BIC
23 Feb: Birmingham NEC
25 Feb: Nottingham Arena
26 Feb: Cardiff CIA
28 Feb: London Wembley Arena
3 Mar: Sheffield Hallam FM Arena
4 Mar: Manchester MEN Arena
6 Mar: Newcastle Radio Metro Arena
7 Mar: Glasgow SECC

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NME ANNOUNCE LINE UP FOR DOUBLE AWARDS TOUR
It's a monster line up for next year's Shockwaves NME Awards Tour. Their words, not mine, but I'm sure they're right. Actually, there are two line ups, because there are two tours, which I'm pretty sure is a new thing. The first is going under the name 'Indie Rock Tour', while the second will be called the 'Indie Rave Tour', in recognition of the growing number of people using the irritating 'indie rave' tag (I suspect I used it a bit earlier in the year, but I've just decided I don't like it).

The former will be headlined by The Automatic with The View, The Horrors and Mumm-Ra in support (someone I know really likes Mumm-Ra, though I can't quite remember who). The latter is headlined by the almost-as-good-as-the-hype-suggests Klaxons, with support from CSS, Underground and New Young Pony Club.

Launching the 2007 tour, NME Editor Conor McNicholas said these words: "The ShockWaves NME Awards Tour has become the stuff of legend over the last few years and even won an award itself in 2006! In previous years the Tour has always sold out incredibly quickly leaving some fans disappointed so this year we wanted to do something really special - give fans double the bands and double the tour. In fact, there are so many great bands on the scene at the moment we'd never have been able to get it down to four anyway."

Here are the dates...

Indie Rock Galore...

29 Jan: Belfast Ulster Hall
30 Jan: Dublin Ambassadors
1 Feb: Glasgow Carling Academy
3 Feb: Manchester Academy
6 Feb: Newcastle Carling Academy
7 Feb: Birmingham Carling Academy
8 Feb: Norwich UEA
10 Feb: Cardiff University
11 Feb: Sheffield Octagon
12 Feb: Reading Hexagon
14 Feb: Nottingham Rock City
15 Feb: Liverpool University
16 Feb: Southampton Guildhall
18 Feb: Cambridge Corn Exchange
19 Feb: Exeter University
20 Feb: Bristol Carling Academy
23 Feb: London Brixton Carling Academy

All that indie rave nonsense...

3 Feb: Dublin Ambassadors
4 Feb: Belfast Mandela Hall
6 Feb: Glasgow Barrowlands
7 Feb: Leeds Metropolitan University
8 Feb: Newcastle University
11 Feb: Cardiff University Solus
12 Feb: Wolves Wulfrun Hall
13 Feb: Oxford Brookes University
14 Feb: Bristol Carling Academy
16 Feb: Liverpool Carling Academy
17 Feb: Manchester Academy 1
18 Feb: Sheffield Plug
20 Feb: Portsmouth Pyramids
21 Feb: Cambridge Junction
22 Feb: London Hammersmith Palais

Tickets go on sale today on http://www.nme.com and elsewhere tomorrow. Press info from Amazing Media - katy@amazingmedia.co.uk.

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CARLING SESSIONS NEXT WEEK
More dates for your diary - The Rumple Strips, The Dykeenies and 1990s will all play at the Carling Sessions at the London Barfly next week, with the latter also playing at a Carling Session in Birmingham. Here are some dates for you...

Barfly, Camden
4 Dec: The Rumble Strips + Sunset Cinema Club + Gary Go
5 Dec: The Dykeenies + supports tbc
9 Dec: 1990s + Help!! She Can't Swim + Bricolage

Barfly, Birmingham
14 Dec: 1990S + Help!! She Can't Swim + Bricolage

I got my press info from brucehay@yahoo.com.

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COLDPLAY MAN SURPRISE GUEST AT FINAL LITTLE NOISE SESSION
Didn't Chris Martin tell us Coldplay were taking a break? Surely that means going away and not bothering us with impromptu sets at charity gigs? No? Oh, alright then. Martin played a surprise four song set with a violin player at the final Little Noise Sessions event at London's Union Chapel last night. This is the series of special acoustic gigs in aid of Mencap, and Martin was the surprise addition to a bill that included James Morrison, Lily Allen and The Automatic.

Observing that "you shouldn't cover songs in an acoustic fashion in front of Lily Allen fans", Martin proceeded to cover songs by The Band and The Killers, the latter a version of 'When You Were Young'. According to the NME, Martin said: "What a great band The Killers are", before joking about a new Coldplay song he performed: "If it's shit, we'll give it to The Killers, and if it's good, we'll keep it".

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EAGLES OF DEATH METAL DROPPED FROM GNR SUPPORT
Josh Homme's Eagles Of Death Metal have had their support slot on the Guns n Roses Chinese Democracy tour cancelled by Axl Rose after they received a poor reception at the Cleveland leg last Friday. According to reports, the Eagles "got booed and jeered and completely bombed for a complete hour". Once GnR took to the stage, Rose addressed the crowd, saying: "So, how'd you like the Pigeons of Shit Metal? Don't worry, that's the last show they're playing with us."

A spokesman for the Eagles confirmed that the band have been dropped from the tour. No official comment from the group themselves. I say they're better off without GnR. And so do their fans. Check out the comments on their MySpace http://www.myspace.com/eaglesofdeathmetal, for proof.

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SINGLE REVIEW: The Killers - Bones (Universal/Vertigo)
The hype surrounding these guys means they could put out anything and people would probably think it was good. Thankfully though, Bones really is a great tune, melodic and soulful with Brandon's strong voice and clever lyrics keeping it full of life as it tells a dark story, worming inside your head, godly and deathly, whilst managing to remain somewhat comforting. It has a retro feeling and a storming build, but it's a bit of a let down that you don't get more from the chorus. Not as indie or nearly as rocky as what we got from Hot Fuss, lacking that bit of edge, but a superb track nonetheless. KN
Release date: 27 Nov
Press contact: APB [RP] Mercury IH [CP, CR, RR, NP, NR]

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ICELAND SLASHES VAT ON MUSIC
Icelandic tax news anyone? Go on, you know want it. The Icelandic government has announced it will cut the amount of sales tax it levies on recorded music goods as of next March. Iceland currently has the second highest rate of VAT on recorded music - 24.5% - second only to Hungary and Norway where VAT on music is 25%. However, as part of a package of measures by the Icelandic government to support its native music industry, the rate there will be slashed to 7% next year.

The move comes after a 20 year campaign by the Icelandic branch of the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry and author and performer organisations to have sales taxes on recorded music cut. Welcoming the move, Gunnar Gudmundsson of IFPI Iceland said yesterday: "Music is a powerful means of expression, underscoring important moments in people's lives and evoking strong emotion. Since music is such an essential part of Icelandic culture, we believed that it was unfair to impose a higher rate of VAT on sound recordings compared to other cultural goods".

The Icelandic government also announced the formation of a programme called Music Export Iceland which will see government ministries work with music companies to promote Icelandic artists abroad.

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DEMAND HIGH FOR SHUFFLE ON BLACK FRIDAY
So, it was Black Friday last week, America's big post-Thanksgiving national day of shopping, and always a good indicator on what the big sellers will be in the US Christmas market this year. And yet another good Black Friday for Apple, with stats coming in suggesting that the new mini iPod Shuffle was the big seller in terms of digital music devices. The new economy-line iPod reportedly outperformed Apple's more expensive video-enabled iPod but, perhaps more importantly, also Microsoft's much hyped new Zune player. Many big stores had sold out of the Shuffles before the weekend kicked in proper, though Apple stores seemingly expected the high demand and had large quantities of the players in stock. Does this mean the Zune player is going to be the latest "iPod killer" that fails to even make a flesh wound on Apple? Well, while Apple is still clearly the dominant player, those who know about these things say it is still too soon to make any definite predictions regarding Microsoft's short term prospects in this space. And who am I to be making predictions if the experts won't? Though I will go as far as to say "bumpy ride ahead".

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COULD THE BEATLES, IN FACT, LAUNCH ONLINE VIA ITUNES?
Talking of the ongoing battle to dominate digital music, interesting chatter regarding the long awaited official release of the Beatles catalogue online. As previously reported, the vast majority of the Beatles catalogue is still not available to buy via legit download platforms, with the Beatles owned Apple Corps still hanging on for "when the time is right" to go digital. As also previously reported, both Apple Corps boss Neil Aspinall and EMI vice-chairman David Munns have recently alluded to the fact that work is under way behind the scenes to digitise the Beatles catalogue ready for a pending download release, though neither have given any hints on timelines or possible online partners.

Some people (well, possibly just us, I can't remember) pontificated that Microsoft might be busy capitalising on the considerable tensions that exist between Apple Corps and Apple Computers over their long running trademark dispute in order to secure some kind of partnership between the new Zune marketplace and the fab four - an alliance which could provide Microsoft with the big coup it needs to seriously launch itself into the digital music market.

However, such pontificating, it seems, might have been off the mark. Latest rumours suggest that, despite past and relatively recent legal disputes, the two Apples may be talking regarding a Beatles download venture. Fortune magazine quotes a "music industry exec apprised of the talks" who says that the Beatles catalogue is quite likely to first appear online in iTunes, with the possibility of a Beatles branded iPod and Beatles based iTunes advertising campaign also being discussed. Nobody official has commented though. We'll let you know when we hear more.

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UBC READY TO LAUNCH RADIO DOWNLOADS PLATFORM
Radio company UBC Media has said it is now ready to launch that previously reported service which will offer digital music downloads to listeners of digital radio broadcasts. From early 2007 consumers listening to participating stations will be able to download tracks they are listening to on the radio at the touch of a button directly from their radio set. Tracks will then be downloaded to their radio set, mobile phone and an internet account.

UBC reckon their Digital Music Downloading service will open up music downloading to a whole new and more mainstream audience who may be cautious of using conventional online or even mobile download platforms. It will also more directly link radio broadcasts and the tangible sale of music. Songs will reportedly sell for around 1.25 euro, which will be pretty competitive with other download services.

The launch of the DMD system follows a test on the Chrysalis owned Heart 100.7 radio station in Birmingham. UBC have reached deals with a number of radio, music and mobile companies to make the venture happen, including Virgin Mobile, Universal Music Group, Warner Music, EMI and mechanical royalties society MCPS. UK radio stations expected to offer the service at launch include Chrysalis owned Heart, EMAP owned Smash Hits and The Hits, Guardian Media Group owned Smooth and Classic Gold Digital, which UBC themselves co-own with GCap, with plans in place to roll out the platform across Europe.

Commenting on the launch, UBC boss Simon Cole told reporters: "We are now in a position where the pieces of the DMD jigsaw are in place. We know there is a demand for DMD, our trial this summer demonstrated this, the logistics of delivery are almost finalized, and I am delighted that we have now got every key player in the radio and music industry on board to ensure the successful launch of the service next year. This is digital radio's killer application".

The media company made the announcement about the launch of its download service alongside the publication of their latest financials. Those weren't so great, with turnover down £350,000 to £9.1 million, and the bottom line down from a £132,000 profit this time last year to a £415,000 loss this year. Cole said the financial difficulties were down to a period of "structural change", adding that his company were developing new revenue models for the radio industry of the future (the download platform presumably one of those models), and that those models would in turn ensure UBC's financial success.

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US PUTS MORE PRESSURE ON RUSSIA OVER COPYRIGHT
While the British government carefully talks to Moscow on issues of life and death, the US government continues with its negotiations on all things copyright. As previously reported, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab has ensured that intellectual property issues have been high up the agenda in talks between the two nations regarding Russia's ambition to join the World Trade Organisation. With Russia having recently made some top level commitments in the IP domain as part of the ongoing wider trade talks, Schwab has now sent a letter to Russian trade minister German Gref outlining some more specific proposals.

In the letter Schwab proposes the setting up of a 'copyright hotline' so that the two countries can alert each other of any potential 'infringing activity' they become aware of. US officials also want to run a training programme to help the Russians hone their skills in detecting and stopping copyright theft. But perhaps most importantly, the letter sets a 1 Jun 2007 deadline for the Russian parliament to enact tougher intellectual property laws, in particular in relation to collecting societies.

The legislative changes Schwab is most keen to hurry through the Russian parliament are those that would close loopholes which have allowed rogue Russian download platform AllofMP3.com to claim legitimacy in its home country. Although AllofMP3.com itself, as previously reported, is not the worldwide problem it once was now that the major credit cards have refused to do business with them, preventing many people from outside Russia from buying music from the cut price service, industry execs fear that bosses there may be developing some kind of alternative payment system or that other Russian firms may set up similar cut price operations that will exist under the radar for a time. Stricter laws within Russia to stop those firms trading legitimately in the domestic market would limit those risks. Schwab has told Russian officials that they need to "continue to take actions against the operation of websites with servers located in Russia that promote illegal distribution of content protected by copyright or related rights".

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ITV STEAL BBC'S TOP MAN
ITV have managed to fill the gap at the top of its hierarchy while simultaneously creating a gap at the top of the BBC by appointing the Corporation's chairman, Michael Grade, as its new chairman. Grade will take over the top job at the commercial broadcaster from Charles Allen, who announced he was stepping down back in August.

It's not a great time for the Beeb to lose its chairman - Grade was a crucial player in the Corporation's battle to secure a bigger licence fee as well as the key man behind the BBC Trust, the new body set to replace the Board Of Governors that oversees the running of the public service broadcaster. The BBC's Business Editor told BBC News: "The timing of Michael Grade's departure to ITV could hardly be worse for the BBC. As one member of the BBC board of governors put it to me, it's a mess."

Some city types, however, have welcomed the move (not that they'd care about problems at the state owned BBC anyway), claiming that Grade is just the kind of well connected charismatic media leader needed to turn round ITV's flagging fortunes. That said, Grade, who has committed to run ITV for at least three years from 1 Jan 2007, will have a big task on his hands to demonstrate to both shareholders and advertisers how ITV is going to successfully compete in the increasingly competitive broadcast media space.

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BT TO LAUNCH TV ON DEMAND SERVICE NEXT WEEK
Talking of the increasingly competitive broadcast media space, BT has announced it will launch its Home Choice rip off, BT Vision, next Monday. That said, the initial roll out of the service, which will combine Freeview channels with a TV on demand service, will probably be quite low key and will focus on those BT Broadband customers who have already signed up to receive it. A full on marketing push is reportedly planned for the Spring. BT is still to announce what it will charge for the service, but some analysts question how big the demand really is for TV on demand, so price point is probably going to be key to whether or not the service will catch on big time or not.

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PAM SPLITS FROM ROCK
Pamela Anderson has announced she is divorcing husband Kid Rock just four months after the couple got hitched. Anderson broke the news to her fans through a posting on her website. Under the headline 'divorce' she wrote "yes it's true... unfortunately impossible". TMZ.com reports that Anderson has filed divorce papers with the LA courts citing "irreconcilable differences", while the star's publicist confirmed the divorce to People magazine, adding: "it wasn't a happy Thanksgiving". Aint that a fact.

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