CMU Daily - on the inside Thursday 30th November
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- EC expected to launch in-depth investigation into Universal's BMG publishing purchase
- Snoop Dogg arrested again
- Elton criticises Aussie prime minister
- Barat: Libertines nearly killed me
- Madonna adoption challenge to proceed
- Celine Dion cancels Vegas shows/Billboard awards appearance
- Geri retires shocker
- Arab Strap man to release new album
- BBC Worldwide young talent search approaches climax
- Air Chart Awards announced
- Charlotte Church news
- Students asked to make Yorke video
- Hard-Fi podcasts
- Mcfly not bothered about Christmas number one
- Single review: Paul Hartnoll - Patchwork Guilt
- Babyshambles to play car park
- Dogg & Diddy tour
- More Levi's Ones To Watch
- Men Women & Children tour UK
- Plus Forty Four tour
- Campbell and Lanegan tour
- Canadian songwriting society seeks injunction against Toronto arena
- More EMI takeover gossip
- Dupri expected to take new role at EMI
- EMI UK adopt Flytxt system for mobile marketing
- SonyBMG sign up to Pandora
- Zune sales seem slow
- Xfm to bid for Welsh licence
- Future post losses
- Sky and Branson welcome Grade appointment
- BBC search for new chairman
- Single review: Jag - Lover In Handcuffs
- Kooks man on fame
- Akon told to keep quiet over polygamy
- Britney backs out of Billboard Award hosting job

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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>>
Continuing on a recurring theme, here are some more nominations for track of the year from more CMU Daily readers - all votes that were cast just yesterday.

Deb Porritt, A Song A Day: Scott Matthews - Elusive
A sensuous, sweltering, plaintive song just shimmering with the ghost of Buckley and the scent of Nick Drake. A disarmingly beautiful record which has lived beside me through the year and been the perfect accompaniment to each season; changing its own character as the months go past.

Nick Cave, Concorde International Artistes: Love Is All - Make Out, Fall Out, Make Up
Perfect pop! Infectious energy and an inspiring sax. Happy and anthemic, I need nothing more!

Andy & Co, Tough Cookie: The Rapture - Get Myself Into It
Amazing cross-over track embracing indie qualities, dance and early 90's groove. One for the disco, Topshop and the Hoxton trendites. Lovely.

Matt Hughes, Hungry Media: Justin Timberlake - MI Love
My track of the year has got to be Justin Timberlake 'MI Love', the pure moment of genius from a pretty average album, if the next record could emulate this track's utter coolness over the whole thing, it could be very special indeed.

Simon Quance, Hyperlaunch: Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
Just totally joyous genius. Will sound fresh and nihilistically relevant (!?) in 3006 and way beyond... shame us humans won't be around to press play.

As you all surely surely surely know by now, this is your chance to vote for your very favourite song of 2006. You can vote for any song that first surfaced this year - including single releases, b-sides, remixes, album tracks and bootleg mixes. To vote, just email the name of the track, the artist and (if you can be bothered) a two sentence reason why it's your favourite. Email it in to 2006@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk right about now (well, before 8 Dec).

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CLASSIFIEDS>>

INTERESTED IN SELLING YOUR RECORD LABEL?
Music Gain is acquiring record labels and catalogue. If you are thinking of selling, or are interested
in a long term capital partner, please contact us. Introduction and spotters fees also paid. Please visit us - http://www.musicgain.com

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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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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: LITTLE BARRIE
I am a big fan of Little Barrie, and this is because their music walks that beautiful line between indie-rock and funk so beloved of, well, me. Which is why I am almost shocked that I have never yet nominated them for MySpace Of The Day. I say 'almost' because of course, it's never really that surprising when I totally meant to do something and completely didn't do it. Even though Little Barrie are one of the best bands to register on my radar in the last few years. On the page you can hear four very classy tracks. I defy you not to like them, and this band. They're big in Japan, after all. Well, they're playing five dates there this month, that much I do know. You, however, can catch them supporting Primal Scream at Brixton Academy on Friday. Other than that you have to wait until February.

http://www.myspace.com/littlebarrie

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EC EXPECTED TO LAUNCH IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION INTO UNIVERSAL'S BMG PUBLISHING PURCHASE
Both Reuters and Billboard yesterday reported that competition watchdogs in the European Commission are about to announce that they plan to undertake an in-depth review into Universal Music's proposed acquisition of BMG Music Publishing, which sounds like fun.

As previously reported, French owned Universal were the preferred bidders to acquire German owned Bertelsmann's publishing company, with the former planning on merging the latter with its existing music publishing operation. However, that deal needs regulatory approval, and despite gaining such approval from US officials, getting the OK from the EC was never going to be so straightforward.

The EC could have cleared the merger based on its investigations so far if officials felt the case for allowing it was clear cut, but the fact they are seemingly proposing more in depth investigations suggests there are tricky issues to be addressed before approval can be given.

While Universal have seemed confident of winning approval throughout the process, the need for a more in-depth investigation is not particularly surprising given that pan-European independent music body IMPALA are opposing the merger. EC officials will be wary of such vocal opposition to the deal after the trade body successfully demonstrated to the European Courts earlier this year that those very officials failed to address all issues before allowing the Sony BMG recorded music merger back in 2004.

Reports suggest at meetings between EC officials and Universal and BMG in London, the music companies were told a secondary review of their proposals would be launched on or around 8 Dec. It is also reported that officials told the music firms that they did not see any major obstacles to their plans but that, in the light of the current review of the Sony BMG merger, they did not want to rush into providing approval for the new merger deal.

Neither Universal or BMG have as yet commented on the reports.

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SNOOP DOGG ARRESTED AGAIN
Snoop Dogg has been arrested on weapons and drugs charges following a TV appearance in Los Angeles. It's the third time in the last few months that the rapper has fallen foul of the law. As previously reported, the rapper was apprehended in possession of a gun and some cannabis at California's Bob Hope airport back in October, and earlier this month was arrested when he attempted to carry an illegal police baton onto a flight at the John Wayne airport in Orange County.

In the latest incident, Snoop was stopped by police as he left the NBC studios in Burbank after recording The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. A spokesman told reporters that police had discovered cocaine, marijuana and a gun in the hip hopper's car.

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ELTON CRITICISES AUSSIE PRIME MINISTER
Elton John has publicly criticised Australian prime minister John Howard's stance on the issue of gay marriage. The singer is, of course, currently on a tour of the country, and asked if he had a message for the PM, whose government ruled against allowing gay civil unions back in June, Elton responded with the words "up yours!"

The singer has, of course, made a formal commitment to his partner, David Furnish, and continues to advocate gay rights, making controversial comments earlier this month in an interview with the Observer Music Monthly, calling for organised religion to be banned, and accusing it of trying to "turn hatred towards gay people". He added he would continue to fight for gay rights, "whether I do it silently behind the scenes or so vocally that I get locked up".

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BARAT: LIBERTINES NEARLY KILLED ME
Carl Barat has told NME this week that the last days of The Libertines were a bit off an effort, but claims that he'll "be a Libertine until the day I die".

The singer said: "Finishing off The Libertines almost killed me. Going around honouring commitments and trying to give every song what it deserved - it wasn't easy. I should have worn a suit of armour. I was doing it for Pete."

What a hero, eh?

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MADONNA ADOPTION CHALLENGE TO PROCEED
A Malawian judge is to allow that previously reported challenge to Madonna's adoption of little David Banda, brought by a coalition of Malawian human rights groups, to go ahead. In court in Lilongwe, judge Andrew Nyirenda ruled that the groups could be regarded as "friends of the court" and therefore granted them permission to pursue their application for a review of the interim custody order awarded to the pop star. According to reports, the judgement said: "The applications from both applicants are accordingly granted and they are both joined as amicus curiae".

David Banda is, of course, now living in London with Madonna.

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CELINE DION CANCELS VEGAS SHOWS/BILLBOARD AWARDS APPEARANCE
Celine Dion has been forced to cancel five performances of her show in Las Vegas, as well as an appearance at the Billboard Music Awards next week, because she's fallen victim to a respiratory infection. The singer is being treated for mycoplasmia bronchitis, a highly contagious bacterial infection, and has been ordered to rest to ensure her recovery from the illness.

Dion's show, 'A New Day', was due to take a break for the holidays, so the cancellations will mean that the singer will now not take to the stage at Caesar's Palace again until 28 Dec. Ticket holders can apply for a refund or rebook for another date.

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GERI RETIRES SHOCKER
Geri Halliwell has retired from music. Forever. Or at least that's what she said to OK! magazine recently, and to be fair, one might have assumed it from her recent silence/lack of huge success. The former Spice Girl said: "As far as music is concerned, I feel like I've given it my best. When I see how desperate people are for that chance, I realise I've had my turn and now I have to let it go."

She also discussed the er, much discussed possibility of a Spice Girls reunion, saying that it was Mel B who nixed the band's opportunity to appear at Live 8 last year, saying "We were all ready apart from Mel B."

She added that it's unlikely ever to happen now, saying: "Victoria said maybe it's time to move on and I think she's got a point. Maybe it's better to keep the Spice Girls as a memory but never say never. A taxi driver said to me we could still do a reunion even if one of us didn't want to."

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ARAB STRAP MAN TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM
Arab Strap's Aiden Moffat is to release a new L'Pierre album next year. The long player, entitled 'Dip', will be out 15 Jan. Moffat : "The album had a concept from the beginning. Its theme is nature and the great outdoors, and particularly the sea, hence 'Dip', a title I stole from the movie of the artist who kindly donated the film image for the artwork".

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BBC WORLDWIDE YOUNG TALENT SEARCH APPROACHES CLIMAX
The previously reported worldwide search for young music talent being staged by the BBC World Service has reached its final seven. As previously reported, over 1000 artists from 35 different countries, all 18 or under, entered the competition. Punters and pundits were then invited to vote on a final 20, helping pick seven overall finalists (I'm pretty sure it was meant to be six, so I'm not sure why it's now seven). Those seven artists will now perform before a team of judges at the BBC's Maida Vale studios on 6 Dec, with said judges announcing an overall winner when those performances are broadcast on 9 Dec. The winner gets, erm, stuff, I guess. Actually, I'm not sure what they win, possibly just a trophy. And worldwide admiration, obviously.

Anyway, here's the final seven...
Silva (Armenia)
Sweet Cherry Fury (Brazil)
MLK and The Dreamers (USA)
The Skagz (UK)
NiC (Malawi)
Mishkini (Ghana)
Stefan Abingdon (UK)

More at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/thenextbigthing

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AIR CHART AWARDS ANNOUNCED
Talking of previously reported awards, the Australian Independent Record Label Association has announced the winners of its AIR Chart Awards, the first two recognizing the best selling independent artists in Australia in the last year, the other two honouring the best independent and new independent artists of the year. And the winners were...

Best Performing Independent Album: Hilltop Hoods, 'The Hard Road'
Best Performing Single / EP: Blue King Brown, 'Blue King Brown'
Most Outstanding New Independent Artist: Gotye
Independent Artist of the Year: Hilltop Hoods

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CHARLOTTE CHURCH NEWS
Well, two stories doing the rounds about Charlotte Church, one with a positive spin on it, one a bit more negative, but seemingly spawned by the same statement from the singer's publicist. First off, reports suggest that Church has been dropped by her label SonyBMG, because of allegedly disappointing sales of her pop album 'Tissues and Issues', which reached number five in the charts and spawned number one single 'Crazy Chick'. Her publicist, however, claims that the decision was mutual, saying: "The five album deal came to an end and both Sony BMG and Charlotte decided not to renew it. It was a mutual decision. Charlotte is not in a rush to consider any new long-term recording deals because the record company industry is in a state of flux."

Other reports are talking about the fact that Church claims to want to concentrate right now on her presenting work, after Channel 4 commissioned two new series of her Friday night show. On that, the statement continued: "For the moment TV presenting suits her lifestyle as there is less travelling involved. The show will take months to film and then taking into account having a break it will be 18 months before she returns to the idea of a recording contract. When she does, it could be she is interested in the sort of album you work on yourself and put out over the internet".

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STUDENTS ASKED TO MAKE YORKE VIDEO
Students from around the world are being invited to create a video for Thom Yorke's track 'The Clock', as part of the D&AD Global Student Awards 2007. The competition asks college and university students to undertake briefs from leading brands, in categories focusing on a variety of creative and business sectors. The Radiohead brief is for the debut music video category, one of 32 categories set by design, advertising and business professionals.

Garrick Hamm, chairman of D&AD Education says: "Winning a D&AD Student Yellow Pencil and being featured in the D&AD Student Annual is the most effective way for students to stand out from the crowd and make an impression on the creative sector."

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HARD-FI PODCASTS
Hard-Fi are to distribute behind the scenes footage from their recent world tour through the power of podcast. The webcasts will form a monthly series, starting with a double bill focusing on their five-night residency at Brixton Academy earlier this year. Upcoming podcasts will feature interviews with fellow tourers including the likes of Paul Weller, Mick Jones, Jerry Dammers and Billy Bragg, plus footage of studio recording sessions for the band's second album. Fans are also being encouraged to email questions and comments for the band to address in later podcasts. Hear the first one now at http://www.hard-fi.com.

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MCFLY NOT BOTHERED ABOUT CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE
McFly say they don't care if they don't get the Christmas number one. The band's Tom Fletcher said: "We're not going for it. It [their next single] is out that week... it would be amazing, but we're not expecting it at all. It will be X Factor for sure." Drummer Harry added "Or something like that. We're not bothered."

The band were speaking at the launch of the audiobook of a book I've never heard of and probably wouldn't approve of if I had, even if Great Ormond Street benefit from it - the official Peter Pan sequel 'Peter Pan In Scarlet'. And with that in mind, Harry Judd decided to reveal he is, in fact, a distant relative of Peter Pan himself. Sort of. Judd: "JM Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan, wrote it about these kids whose surname was Llewellyn Davies. Their grandma, I think, was related to Daphne Du Maurier, who I'm related to very distantly". So that's interesting.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Paul Hartnoll - Patchwork Guilt (Kids)
Genius is an overused word, but when it comes to the Hartnoll Brothers (who for over ten years were at the forefront of influential inventive techno with Orbital), it's a word you can use with some confidence. With the duo having gone their separate ways a few years back, Paul has turned his mind to solo material, and this is the first fruits of such activity. You can take the man out of Orbital, but you can't take Orbital out of the man, it seems - 'Patchwork Guilt' is instantly recognisable as the work of a man who helped create classics such as 'Lush', 'Belfast', 'The Box' and more. We're in the realms of emotive electronica here, defiantly machine-made, but with a human heart at its core, with beautifully simple melodies counterbalancing the icy techno harshness, and a subtly cinematic feel to the whole thing, redolent of Orbital's seminal 'Insides' album. B-side 'Gloopy' is essentially more of the same, although there's some scratchy punk guitars alongside the progressive beats and waif-like riffs. There's an album due in 2007 and this all bodes very well for it indeed. MS
Release date: 4 Dec
Press Contact: 14th Floor PR [all]

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BABYSHAMBLES TO PLAY CAR PARK
Babyshambles are to play a gig on the seventh floor car park of Selfridges on London's Oxford Street at 1pm on 7 Dec. The event is to mark the launch that previously reported new clothing range launched by Gio-Goi and inspired by the band's frontman, one Pete Doherty.

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DOGG & DIDDY TOUR
Snoop Dogg and Diddy are to tour the UK together next year. Tickets on sale this Friday, dates as follows:

27 Mar: London Wembley Arena
28 Mar: Cardiff CIA
29 Mar: Manchester MEN
30 Mar: Glasgow SECC
2 Apr: Nottingham Arena

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MORE LEVI'S ONES TO WATCH
Those Levi's Ones To Watch people will be doing some more artist showcasing next month, showcasing the following artists at the following venues on the following dates.

6 Dec: Liverpool Barfly - GoodBooks
8 Dec: London Barfly: Pull Tiger Tail, Action Plan, Ripchord
11 Dec: York Fibbers - Ghosts
13 Dec: Cardiff Barfly - Ghosts

Tickets from http://www.ticketweb.co.uk

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MEN WOMEN & CHILDREN TOUR UK
That's the electro band, Men Women & Children, not just hosts of men, women and children wandering the country and stopping in at venues along the way. The band, Men Women & Children, perform on the following dates in the following locations:

30 Nov: Northampton Soundhaus
1 Dec: Sheffield Leadmill
2 Dec: Birmingham Barfly
3 Dec: Stoke Sugarmill
4 Dec: Wrexham Central Station
5 Dec: Liverpool Barfly
6 Dec: Aberdeen Moshulu
7 Dec: Glasgow King Tuts
8 Dec: Middlesbrough Cornerhouse
9 Dec: London Mean Fiddler Club Frog
10 Dec: Oxford Zodiac
11 Dec: Manchester Roadhouse
12 Dec: Leeds Cockpit
13 Dec: London The Fly Dance in My Blood Club
14 Dec: Cardiff Barfly
15 Dec: Yeovil Ski Lodge
16 Dec: Nottingham Rock City

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PLUS FORTY FOUR TOUR
+44, the band formed by Blink 182's Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of course, will play the following UK dates, around about the same time as the release of single 'When Your Heart Stops Beating'. Dates as follows:

3 Feb: London Brixton Academy
4 Feb: Nottingham Rock City
5 Feb: Glasgow Academy
7 Feb: Newcastle Academy
8 Feb: Manchester Academy
9 Feb: Southampton Guildhall

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CAMPBELL AND LANEGAN TOUR
More live dates for the new year, this time from Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, following on from their joint album which was released, of course, at the start of this year. Dates as follows:

21 Jan: Glasgow ABC
23 Jan: London Scala
24 Jan: Brighton Komedia
25 Jan: Bristol St Georges

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CANADIAN SONGWRITING SOCIETY SEEKS INJUNCTION AGAINST TORONTO ARENA
This is quite interesting. The organisation that represents songwriters and music publishers in Canada is trying to stop a major Toronto venue from staging concerts while an ongoing dispute over royalty fees awaits a court hearing.

Canadian copyright laws say that promoters of concerts must pay set tariffs, up to 3% of gross ticket sales, to the Society Of Composers, Authors And Music Publishers, or SOCAN, which the society then distributes to its members, compensating them for the public performance of their work.

In a lawsuit launched in 2004, SOCAN claim that the owners of Toronto's Air Canada Centre, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd, have refused to pay royalty fees on 29 concerts dating back to 1999. That litigation is yet to go to court, and may not do so for another year. In the interim, according to the Toronto Star, SOCAN is seeking a court injunction to stop the staging of concerts at the arena.

MLSE reportedly argue that they are just a venue, not promoters, and that they are therefore not liable to pay the fee on the disputed concerts. Its general counsel, Robin Brudner, told the Toronto Star that when the company has paid the tariff in the past the money came out of the revenues of concert promoters hiring the venue, they themselves, Brudner argues, have never been liable to pay monies out of the rents payment they receive.

It is not clear how quickly the Canadian courts will hear SOCAN's injunction application, or what their chances are of stopping concerts at the ACC until their long running dispute is resolved.

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MORE EMI TAKEOVER GOSSIP
More gossip regarding the previously reported approach by investment types to buy little ole EMI. As previously reported, insiders say that the investment firm expressing an interest in acquiring the major was Permira, but as also previously reported, it seems quite a few investment houses are eyeing up the music firm, which presumably means city types have some renewed confidence in the long term future of the record business.

As well as Permira, Goldman Sachs and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, all of whom we reported yesterday had expressed some interest in EMI, HitsDailyDouble say they've heard Apollo Management LP, Credit Suisse, Apax, and Cinven are all possible suitors. All of which possibly means there could be a bit of a bidding war to acquire the major - which might see two or more of those interested clubbing together to purchase it.

This is good news for EMI's current shareholders, who can probably expect to see the major's share price continue to rise as bidders prepare to bid. Possibly less so for EMI's workforce, because it seems that while investment types have renewed confidence in the music business, many feel that there are still economies that could be made at a major company like EMI, economies which would help deliver the quick return on investment. And we all know what "economies" normally means.

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DUPRI EXPECTED TO TAKE NEW ROLE AT EMI
Whatever happens, there's still room in the EMI fraternity for Mr Jermaine Dupri, or so it would seem. As previously reported, Dupri confirmed he was leaving his role of President Of Urban at EMI's Virgin US division last month. Rumour had it the disappointing performance of the most recent album from Dupri's girlfriend, Janet Jackson, on which Dupri himself had a big creative involvement, had led to EMI ending its relationship with the producer. But he claimed it had been his decision to go, and that he was going because, basically, the time was right.

It's very possible his explanation was right, because word has it he is about to be handed another influential job within EMI. Dupri was reportedly headhunted by another major after his departure from Virgin, though contractual commitments to EMI meant there was some doubt as to whether he could go work for their rival. But, according to HitsDailyDouble, Dupri has decided to stay within EMI anyway, and not because of contractual commitments, but because bosses there "made him an offer he couldn't refuse" (and in a good way, I think).

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EMI UK ADOPT FLYTXT SYSTEM FOR MOBILE MARKETING
And even more EMI news for you. EMI UK yesterday announced it was entering into an alliance with mobile direct marketing company Flytxt to deliver a range of mobile based marketing programmes. The record company plans to use Flytxt's 'Neon' platform.

To be honest, I've no idea what that means, but the press release says: "Using Flytxt Neon, EMI Music UK marketers are setting up and running sophisticated mobile campaigns, delivering a range of value-added services to consumers, including competitions, special access to events, artist information, pre-release information, mobile content and sales promotions. Thanks to Neon's built-in APIs, EMI's mobile marketing activities are fully integrated with its existing email, web and WAP marketing suppliers". So, that's that cleared up.

Confirming their partnership with the major, Flytxt's boss, David Harper, told CMU: "We are delighted to be providing Neon to EMI Music UK. They were very quick to see Neon's potential to transform their mobile marketing and are using it to the full."

EMI's CRM Manager, Shai Eilon, added: "We are confident that NEON is the right mobile marketing solution for us. Flytxt was selected based on three criteria - usability, technology and experience and demonstrated their ability to support our CRM strategy. We are happy to be working with Flytxt and using NEON to best communicate to our consumer via mobile."

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SONYBMG SIGN UP TO PANDORA
SonyBMG UK has announced it is the first UK major label to sign up to Pandora Media in preparation for the UK launch of Pandora's internet radio service, which is due to go live next Spring.

US based Pandora is a similar system to London based last.fm, and Yahoo's Launch service - ie you tell it a bit about your music tastes, and it produces a continuous music playlist that it thinks you will like, based on what people with similar tastes like, and on the continuous feedback you give to tracks that play (like this, hate that etc etc).

The SonyBMG deal means the major will make its entire catalogue available for streaming via the service, taking a cut of Pandora's ad revenues in return.

Confirming the deal, SonyBMG New Media Director Jon Davis told CMU: 'We're rapidly moving from a world of push and broadcast media into a world of pull in which consumers are demanding more control. Pandora is one of the key drivers of the musical long tail. By providing a personalised radio experience, Pandora exposes music fans to a huge amount of new, old, known and unknown artists. Combine this with the opportunity to sell highly targeted advertising and you have a valuable proposition for content owners, advertisers and music fans alike".

Pandora's Euro MD Paul Brown added: "I am very happy to announce this deal which is the result of a lot of effort on both sides to bring the Pandora discovery radio experience even closer to a UK launch in 2007. We are very excited at the prospect of bringing our service to UK listeners to help them discover music they will love, which is what Pandora is all about".

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ZUNE SALES SEEM SLOW
Critics seem to be divided on Microsoft's iPod competing Zune Player, which launched in the US recently of course. But some industry types are starting to suggest that, whatever the reviews, the good old American public are pretty disinterested in Microsoft's new toy. Although the IT firm say that sales of the player are on track with their expectations, Bloomberg noted this week that the Zune is currently #18 in Amazon's MP3 player sales chart, having never got higher than #7. All of which is making some cynics say that Microsoft's expectations must have been pretty low if they are being met. Though, it has to be said, bosses there did seem pretty realistic regarding the challenge ahead of them in taking on Apple in the digital music market, and they did seem to be in it for the long haul. So, it is very possible Microsoft expected a very slow start to their Zune ambitions.

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XFM TO BID FOR WELSH LICENCE
GCap's alternative station Xfm yesterday confirmed it is planning on bidding for the new FM radio licence recently announced for South Wales. If it was successful, the station would further expand its terrestrial reach, which currently covers London, Manchester and Central Scotland. Xfm has joined forces with Porth based studio and venue complex The Pop Factory to boost its Welsh credentials, and will sponsor the Best Album category in The Pop Factory's annual music awards which take place in Cardiff tonight.

In a statement about its bid, the station said yesterday: "Xfm believes that the vibrant music scene of South Wales would greatly benefit from a local Xfm station, nurturing local talent and bringing it to the whole nation whilst stimulating the local creative industries to further contribute to the area's economic growth. In a recent survey, 1 in 5 of those questioned said that they were not happy with their current radio options in the region whilst 75% said that they would be likely to listen to a local version of Xfm for South Wales".

Xfm's MD, Nick Davidson, who has Welsh credentials of his own, having lived in Cardiff for ten years, added: "As someone who has lived in Cardiff, I can say with confidence that the South Wales area shares Xfm's love of new music. There's a thriving rock scene here that Xfm can help to find a national audience, via its stations in Britain's other music hubs: London, Manchester and Central Scotland".

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FUTURE POST LOSSES
Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and DJ Mag publisher, Future Publishing, yesterday posted losses of £50 million, with its recently appointed CEO admitting his predecessor had spent too much on ambitious acquisitions in the recent past. Future CEO Stevie Spring admitted the sharp fall in profits was "disappointing", though to be fair it was not a complete surprise given recent announcements by the publishing firm, including details of plans to sell off some of its recently acquired titles in order to regain profitability.

Nevertheless, Spring, who said she was working to restore shareholder confidence, continued to air some caution regarding the company's recovery, saying in a statement: "It is clear with hindsight that during the past two years, Future over-invested in acquisitions and under-invested in organic development. I am pleased at how the business is responding to the changes we're making, but anticipate that 2007 will be a year of transition as we evolve our business models to reflect changing consumer, advertiser and retailer behaviour".

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SKY AND BRANSON WELCOME GRADE APPOINTMENT
Both BSkyB and Richard Branson have welcomed the appointment of Michael Grade to the top job at ITV. The former have a right to an opinion, of course, because they recently became the commercial network's biggest shareholder. Branson, meanwhile, has been increasingly vocal about ITV of late because he is now a shareholder in cable firm NTL (soon to be Virgin Media), who had expressed an interest in merging with ITV, but whose approach was knocked back shortly after the BSkyB share purchase.

A "senior source" at Sky told reporters: "We are pleased that the board has moved quickly to bring in new leadership and a leader of some stature. We did say when we announced our investment in ITV that we saw scope in long-term value and the appointment of new leadership would be one of the priorities in that. We look forward to hearing more from the board in due course about its future strategy".

Branson, meanwhile, said: "We would like to congratulate Michael Grade on his appointment as executive chairman of ITV. He is a delightful person with a long-standing reputation in the industry. We very much hope that today's news signals a better creative future for commercial terrestrial television in the UK and I look forward to meeting him in the new year."

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BBC SEARCH FOR NEW CHAIRMAN
Meanwhile, back at the Beeb, speculation is rife as to who will take over from Grade as Chairman, with Channel 4 chairman Lord Puttman, BBC presenter David Dimbleby, former peer Baroness Jay, RDF Media chairman and former ITV chief executive Richard Eyre and CBI director-general Richard Lambert all being discussed as possible successors.

Meanwhile, the government's Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, who will coordinate the selection of a new chairman, denied that Grade's defection had created "turmoil" at the BBC. Reports suggested that several senior BBC people were mightily pissed off at the timing of Grade's departure, with two of Grade's key projects - the licence fee negotiations and the creation of the BBC Trust to replace the Board Of Governors - both at a crucial stage. But Jowell said of the Beeb yesterday: "It is a large and resilient organisation and is bigger than the loss of any one person in it", adding that Grade's departure should not effect or delay the settlement of licence fee negotiations.

Some insiders don't completely agree though. Jowell is a supporter of the BBC's bid to increase the licence fee over the rate of inflation, but she faces opposition from elsewhere in government, especially the Treasury, and some say Grade's involvement was important in overcoming that opposition.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Jag - Lover In Handcuffs (Universal/Polydor)
Cor, this is a bit sprightly, isn't it? If The Zutons took a load of speed and pretended to be early Supergrass covering the Small Faces as if their life depended on it, it might sound a little bit like this. The lager-soaked scent of Britpop wafts inescapably from 'Lover In Handcuffs', but there's more to Jag than just one-dimensional indie rock - you can hear a myriad of influences trying to burst out of this single, although they haven't all quite worked out how to do it yet. There's an exuberance about the whole thing that's hard not to warm to, although it does help that 'LIH' is laden with killer hooks and a confidence that should serve to get this North London trio noticed. Promising stuff. MS
Release date: 4 Dec
Press contact: Bang On PR [all]

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KOOKS MAN ON FAME
The Kooks frontman Luke Pritchard has been wittering on about fame and the likes. He told MTV: "The success is kinda bullshit man. It's in two worlds. You have your life which is how you wanna do it. Then you have a band that everybody knows. I try not to let one affect the other, you know what I mean. We have only been famous for a very short time, not that anyone would recognise us!" Perhaps he should let one 'life' affect the other. Sing more in real life, sing less in his public life. He'd make Mary here happy if he did.

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AKON TOLD TO KEEP QUIET OVER POLYGAMY
This is interesting. According to http://www.sohh.com, Universal Music bosses in the US have told R&B star Akon to refrain from discussing having more than one wife. The star, a devout Muslim apparently, reportedly has three wives at the moment (though there have been some reports that say more) and cites the Koran as support for his polygamous lifestyle. Which his label didn't have an opinion on really until Akon started discussing it all in an interview on New York's Hot 97. Now they've reportedly told him to avoid discussing all things polygamy which, sohh.com says, has led to Akon questioning just how "free" his "free country" really is. Not quite that free, clearly.

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BRITNEY BACKS OUT OF BILLBOARD AWARD HOSTING JOB
Britney Spears has reportedly dropped out of hosting next Monday's aforementiond Billboard Awards at the last minute, possibly to avoid having to make a public appearance so soon after her split from Fed-Ex, or possibly because she's too busy trawling the US party circuit. That said, the former is possibly more likely, because her fellow party trawler Paris Hilton was due to be her co-host on the night, and is now set to host the show on her own. If Paris can take time out of her gruelling piss up schedule, surely Britney could too.

A source at Fox TV, who screen the awards event, is quoted as saying: "She pulled out, she didn't give a reason. We really don't know the reason. But we're disappointed she backed out". Quite whose idea it was to book Spears and Hilton to host the awards event in the first place I've no idea. Frankly I suspect a better night would be had by all if both of them dropped out.

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