CMU Daily - on the inside Friday 5th January
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Virgin Digital closes in US
- Rhymes formally charged over driver allegations
- Mungo Jerry man avoids assault charges
- Phish man faces drugs charges
- Snoop faces reality show lawsuit
- Mika tops BBC's pundits poll
- Moby on Saddam's execution
- George Michael loses equipment in fire at Russian venue
- Smiths man plans big charity busk
- Noel gets ambitious for next Oasis album
- Ferry to launch Dylan covers album
- Macca planning to complete Beatles song
- To My Boy single, album, tour
- I Was A Cub Scout dates, lots of them
- GoodBooks dates
- The Feeling to play Tiscali Showcase
- Bonnaroo promoters buy the site
- Distinct'ive join up with MRC
- Clarke to buy Koch?
- Capital announce two new weekend recruits
- 1Xtra announce drum & bass week
- Call the search off - Lily Allen's dog's been found
- More Britney nonsense

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TOP BIT>>
This is, well, not as exciting as it initially sounds. I'll show you. Here's the top line of the latest music licensing story which was reported in various places yesterday. According to further internal documents from commercial radio industry group RadioCentre, sourced by the Media Guardian, the commercial radio sector is close to securing a blanket licence for including music in podcasts from UK recording rights body PPL. The deal will mean radio stations will be able to include music from any of PPL's member labels in their podcasts for an annual licence fee. Sounds exciting, yes?

Except the licence on offer will only allow radio stations to include thirty second clips of songs which would surely mean that any podcasts issued under the licence would be nothing more than glorified promotional material - either promoting the labels' music or the radio stations' programmes, or both, which, frankly, isn't all that exciting at all.

That said, PPL don't look to be expecting too much from the new blanket licence, assuming my interpretation of the Guardian's interpretation of RadioCentre's interpretation of PPL's offer is correct. The commercial radio sector as a whole would have to pay £100,000 a year for the blanket licence, but as I understand it that would be split between all of the commercial radio groups affiliated to RadioCentre, so the cost to each radio firm would be nominal, in the whole scheme of things. Of course the radio companies would have to pay a publishing royalty to MCPS-PRS as well, which the Guardian reckon would come in at about £110,000 a year. But still, the actual cost to each member radio station would not be huge. That said, the minutes the Guardian have reported on relate to discussions that took place last October, and also mention that there are still areas of contention between PPL and the radio companies, in particular on how long each podcast can be made available, so whether and when a deal will actually be done remains to be seen.

But to a certain extent that deal itself isn't so interesting because, as I say, podcasts that only contain thirty second clips of music don't sound especially exciting, and the fact radio companies are interested in such a licence makes me suspect that they still see podcasts primarily as a promotional tool for their other activity rather than a new channel through which to distribute original entertainment (and understandably so, given that radio stations risk pulling people away from their main revenue earning radio services if their podcasts become too compelling).

What is more interesting here is that PPL are considering podcast licences at all because, as they themselves have been keen to point out before, podcasts are not 'broadcasting' in any traditional sense of the word, and therefore do not automatically fall under PPL's area of responsibility. Nor are PPL's members legally obliged to offer any kind of blanket licences in this domain. So, the fact podcasting is now properly on PPL's agenda is in itself quite exciting. Whether the somewhat limiting licence being discussed with RadioCentre could and would then be slowly expanded to enable podcasting to become a dynamic music media channel in itself, and not just an add on for more conventional broadcasters, also remains to be seen. I suspect it will take some time for that to happen, but that it will happen eventually. And the RadioCentre deal is, in that way, a step in the right direction.

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CMU FRIDAY TIPS

VIGSY'S CLUB TIP: Movement
A slightly belated happy birthday Movement for 4 Jan. Yep, it's now a whole decade since this weekly club, synonymous with London's Drum & Bass scene, was first unleashed, and they are still rocking it by all accounts. Residents on rotation: Bryan Gee, Ray Keith, Ruffstuff and Ray Keith. This week there's a special guest set from the mighty mighty DJ Hype and Addiction, with Rage and Moose MCing. I haven't been in a little while, but get there early and prepare to lose it in this perfectly formed venue, which I reckon is one of the capital's finest.

Thu 11 Jan, Bar Rumba, Trocadero, Shaftesbury Avenue London W1D 7EP, 8.30pm till 3.30am, £7 (£5 NUS, ladies free before 11pm), http://www.barrumba.co.uk, press info from Bulldozer Media on 020 7287 2715.

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VIRGIN DIGITAL CLOSES IN US
The Virgin Group quietly closed down the US bit of its Virgin Digital download service over the Christmas break, encouraging those signed up to its subscription music service to move over to their rivals Napster. The UK version of the Virgin Digital service doesn't seem to be affected by the move, and is currently fully operational.

Virgin entered the digital music market in the US in September 2004. As in the UK, while cross-promoted through sister company Virgin Megastore, the digital music service was separate from the high street operation and its online mail order website, with a subscription offer rather than an a la carte platform at the heart of its business. Although relatively late to market, Virgin hoped their existing profile in the music space would help them gain a share of the market as downloading went mainstream. But in a market so dominated by the Apple's iPod, for which the computer firm's rivals cannot supply major label content, and with subscription based digital music services still to gain mainstream appeal, it seems Virgin is no longer confident that the long term potential of a Virgin Digital style offer merits continued investment in a difficult sector.

Whether the closure means the Virgin Group is stepping out of the digital music market completely in the US (their attempts at launching a Virgin MP3 player there, which preceded the launch of Virgin Digital, were also short lived) remains to be seen. It has always seemed odd that both Virgin and HMV's digital operations are not better integrated with their high street and mail order businesses, so perhaps Virgin will look to reenter the market with a new service that boasts such integration. Although in the US Virgin Megastore's online store is simply a Virgin branded version of Amazon, who are, themselves, rumoured to be planning an entry into the digital music space. What that might mean for Virgin's future in digital music isn't clear - though some kind of joint venture Virgin/Amazon a la carte download platform could be mutually beneficial for both companies.

Virgin Digital's US exit also throws further doubt on the viability of the subscription model download service, where users pay a monthly fee to access a massive catalogue of music (Virgin offered 2 million tracks), but which they can only access while their subscription is valid. At least one other major purveyor of a subscription based download service is rumoured to be considering other models for its future digital music business, making some question whether the subscription model will ever take off in the mainstream marketplace.

That said, the flagship subscription based service, Napster, has just reported a better-than-expected increase in its subscriber base as well as confirming Virgin Digital have handed over their entire subscriber list who Napster will now approach directly. All of which has enabled the digital music firm to raise its financial forecast for revenues in the third quarter of its financial year. Napster bosses say they reckon total revenues for the quarter ending 31 Dec will now exceed $28 million, a million up on initial forecasts. With further global expansion and mobile offers in development, the recent boost in subscribers means Napster boss Chris Gorog has been even more upbeat than usual this week. That said, given the complete dominance of Apple's a la carte service in the digital music space and the slow take up of the subscription model in general, it remains to seen if Napster's backers can continue to justify their considerable investment in the developing digital market place.

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RHYMES FORMALLY CHARGED OVER DRIVER ALLEGATIONS
Busta Rhymes has been formally arrested over that previously reported incident last week when the rapper allegedly attacked his former driver Eddie Hatchett, who visited the offices of Rhymes to collect monies he claimed he was owed. Rhymes left the country shortly after the incident, and before Hatchett reported it, so police announced their intention to press charges once the rapper returned. He handed himself in to Manhattan police on Wednesday, and was formally charged for misdemeanour assault. Hatchett claims he was punched and kicked "numerous times" during his run in with Rhymes, but a representative for the rapper has now denied those claims. Rhymes' manager Chris Lighty told AllHipHop.com: "We are totally innocent of this charge being thrust upon Busta Rhymes and look forward to putting this past us as soon as possible". As previously reported, Rhymes is still facing assault charges from another incident that took place last August.

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MUNGO JERRY MAN AVOIDS ASSAULT CHARGES
Elsewhere in the pop courts, a former member of Mungo Jerry has avoided his own set of assault charges by agreeing to be 'bound over'. Mungo Jerry banjo player Paul King was accused of assaulting an ex-girlfriend and a pub landlord last July, and was due to stand trial at Liskeard Magistrates Court in Cornwall this month. King intended to plead not-guilty to the charges, but has agreed to the 'bound over' deal (which basically means he promises to be a good boy, and risks being fined if he isn't) in order to avoid having to stand trial. The prosecution in the case have confirmed they will not now pursue the case against King.

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PHISH MAN FACES DRUGS CHARGES
More pop courts nonsense. Former Phish frontman Trey Anastasio (former in that I don't think Phish are currently active) was in court in New York on Wednesday to face drug possession and driving under the influence charges (his attendance came as a surprise to media types, who didn't expect him in court in relation to this incident until 10 Jan).

The charges came after police spotted him driving somewhat erratically on the morning of 15 Dec. Police say that when they stopped Anastasio they found quantities of prescription painkillers and an anti-anxiety drug, none of which had been prescribed to the singer/guitarist. Albany based news station WNYT also claim a quantity of heroin was found, and that Antastasio admitted to police that he had been smoking hash and had taken unspecified pills prior to his arrest, but the District Attorney has refused to comment on those claims, and the Phish man has pleaded not-guilty to all the charges he faces.

Those charges are currently misdemeanor charges, but the judge that heard the case on Wednesday said that, given the quantity of drugs involved, that they could as yet be stepped up to more serious felony charges. And, depending on discussions with Anastaosio lawyers, Washington County district attorney Kevin Kortright says the case could now go to a grand jury.

Following the incident back in December Anastasio issued a short statement saying that he felt "terrible about what happened last night, and I am deeply sorry for any embarrassment I have caused my friends, family and fans". He made no comment after yesterday's court hearing, and is now due back in court on 14 Feb.

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SNOOP FACES REALITY SHOW LAWSUIT
More pop legal news, involving the Snoop Dogg fella, though it's civil rather than criminal legalities for a change. A New York based media company called Natural Resources Media & Technology Group are suing the rapper over a deal he entered into with them last July to make a TV series about a youth football league which Snoop has founded (in which 9-12 year old kids compete for the right to play in the 'Snooperbowl'!). The reality show would have followed Snoop and his youth sports ventures, which is all well and good, except that the rapper had already signed a deal with 20th Century Fox to make a film about the very same thing. The Fox deal gives them exclusivity regarding any programmes involving Snoop and young sporty types, meaning Natural Resources will now have to dump their Snoop reality show project, at considerable cost to themselves. With that in mind they are suing the rapper for $250,000 plus legal costs, claiming Snoop entered into their contract illegally because of his existing contract with Fox.

They should just film the legal proceedings, would probably make a better show anyway.

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MIKA TOPS BBC'S PUNDITS POLL
The BBC have now revealed the full list of ten artists most tipped by music pundit types in their previously reported Sound Of 2007 Poll, and the most tipped is that Mika bloke, who was described by Later With Jools Holland producer Alison Howe as "a natural pop star with style, personality and great pop songs in spades".

Interviewed by the Beeb about his top rating in the survey, Mika said: "It means a lot, especially if you look at the people who have won in the past five years. It's great company to be in. I've got a long way to go and I've got a lot to achieve. Musically, I've got a lot of room to grow. I see this as the first stage. I really want people to know me, to find out about me, and if they really like me, to stick with me. Hype is scary. This is a lot of hype, I'm aware of that. But anyone who's a writer really wants longevity."

The full top ten list in the latest Sound Of poll, which has had a pretty good record at predicting the big acts of the upcoming year during its five year history, is as follows...

1. Mika
2. The Twang
3. Klaxons
4. Sadie Ama
5. Enter Shikari
6. Air Traffic
7. Cold War Kids
8. Just Jack
9. Ghosts
10. The Rumble Strips

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MOBY ON SADDAM'S EXECUTION
Moby has been blogging about the execution of Saddam Hussein last weekend and the ethics of the death penalty in general. Following the news that the former Iraqi dictator had been executed in somewhat shambolic circumstances, with mobile phone footage of the hanging quickly posted on the net, Moby wrote: "Saddam Hussein was a bad man, and a tyrant, and a despot. But I don't know that 'celebrating' his death speaks so highly of the celebrants ... I find it especially odd when Christians are pro-death and when Christians celebrate an execution. Jesus did kind of say: 'Love your enemies', and 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice'. Executing the guilty might satisfy some violent blood-lust within us, but as everyone learns in the First grade, two wrongs don't make a right".

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GEORGE MICHAEL LOSES EQUIPMENT IN FIRE AT RUSSIAN VENUE
Various bits of musical equipment belonging to George Michael has been destroyed after a fire at a venue in Russia on News Year's Eve. The fire followed a performance by Michael at the venue as part of a New Years party being held by Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin. It is unclear how much equipment Michael had left in the venue prior to the fire or what that equipment cost. How he will ever be able to afford to replace the equipment, given that he was only paid £1.5 million to play at Potanin's party, is anyone's guess.

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SMITHS MAN PLANS BIG CHARITY BUSK
Calling buskers everywhere - former Smiths man Andy Rourke needs your help. He is hoping to stage the biggest ever busking gig in Manchester's Exchange Square on 13 Jan. The big busk will aim to raise funds for cancer charity Versus Cancer.

Rourke explains: "A record of this kind has never been attempted before so it will be great if we can do it, especially as it's for charity. We hope to raise £1 million to fight cancer with our 2007 concerts, and we hope this will set the ball rolling nicely. So please, show your support and help us set the world busking record on 13th January and raise some much needed money for charity".

Anyone interested in taking part in the big busk, which takes place between 2pm and 4pm on 13 Jan, should email their name, contact details and details of their musical talents to busking@greatnorthernproductions.co.uk.

The first of the "2007 concerts" in aid of Versus Cancer that were alluded to by Mr Rourke in that quote there takes place at the MEN Arena on 30 Mar. Tickets go on sale on 12 Jan, more info can be found at http://www.versuscancer.org (not much more info yet to be honest, but more should be posted soon).

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NOEL GETS AMBITIOUS FOR NEXT OASIS ALBUM
Noel Gallagher has said that the recent acoustic shows that he played to promote Oasis' best of album have inspired him to be more ambitious on his band's next studio album. Speaking to NME.com, he said: "All the tunes I've written recently have been on the kind of acoustic side, you know? But for the next record I really fancy doing a record where we just completely throw the kitchen sink at it. We haven't done that since [1997's] 'Be Here Now'. I'd like to get, like, a 100-piece orchestra and choirs and all that stuff. I think since [2000's] 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants' we've been trying to prove a point of just bass, drums, guitar and vocals and nothing fancy. But I kind of like fancy! I'd like to make an absolutely fucking colossal album. You know? Like literally two orchestras, stuff like that".

Sounds good to me. I think I'm right in saying there's a bigger interview with Noel in this week's NME, though don't go quoting me on that.

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FERRY TO LAUNCH DYLAN COVERS ALBUM
Bryan Ferry is set to release an album of Bob Dylan covers called 'Dylanesque'. Among the eleven tracks set to be covered are 'The Times They Are A Changin', 'Simple Twist Of Fate' and 'All Along The Watchtower'. Here's what Bryan has to say about the album: "I got the feeling people expected something fairly refined from me. My voice has gotten deeper and the album's got an element of roughness to it and, I hope, a kind of haunting quality. The singer in me is overjoyed to be singing these songs". The album is released on 5 Mar.

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MACCA PLANNING TO COMPLETE BEATLES SONG
Paul McCartney reportedly wants to complete a Beatles song using vocals recorded by John Lennon. A source has told the Daily Express: "It has always bothered Paul a bit that they didn't finish 'Now And Then'. Although George wasn't keen, Paul always felt the song had a lot of potential. He is now hoping to complete it, with him singing the harmonies to John's lead vocal. It would be very moving to hear the two of them singing one last time".

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TO MY BOY SINGLE, ALBUM TOUR
The rather fun (and rather good, I should add) To My Boy will follow up their two 2006 singles with a new one in March, the name of which I'm not clear on just now. An album will follow, while the following live dates will precede the single release. Press info from the Beggars/XL bods.

7 Feb: Watford Camel Club
8 Feb: Birmingham Custard Factory (Club NME)
9 Feb: London Barfly (Adventures Close To Home)
10 Feb: Nottingham Stealth
12 Feb: Newcastle Digital (Club NME)
14 Feb: Leeds Faversham (Club NME)
15 Feb: Sheffield Fuzz Club
16 Feb: Hertford Marquee
17 Feb: Hastings Crypt (I Blame The Parents)
18 Feb: Brighton Cavalcade of Pop!
19 Feb: Cambridge Soul Tree
17 Mar: Glasgow Death Disco

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I WAS A CUB SCOUT DATES, LOTS OF THEM
To My Boy are signed to XL imprint Abeano, as are I Was A Cub Scout. Another seamless link from your CMU Daily. They (I Was A... not To My...) will release their second single in March, as well as playing all these many many gigs. Press info from those Beggars/XL types once more.

1 Mar: Sheffield University of Sheffield Union Of Students
2 Mar: Nottingham Rock City
3 Mar: Oxford Zodiac
5 Mar: Cambridge The Loft at The Graduate
7 Mar: Bristol The Croft
8 Mar: Cardiff Barfly
9 Mar: Merthyr Tydfil The Studio Bar
10 Mar: Exeter Cavern
11 Mar: Derby Victoria Inn
13 Mar: Leeds Cockpit
14 Mar: Stoke Underground
15 Mar: Glasgow King Tut's
16 Mar: Arbroath Viewfield Hotel
17 Mar: Aberdeen The Tunnels
18 Mar: Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire
20 Mar: Manchester Night and Day
21 Mar: Lancaster Lancaster Library
22 Mar: Kingston The Peel
23 Mar: Winchester Railway Inn
24 Mar: Southampton Joiners
25 Mar: Bridgwater Rugby Club
27 Mar: Brighton (Venue TBC)
28 Mar: London (Venue TBC)
29 Mar: Southend Chinnery's
30 Mar: Hertford The Marquee
31 Mar: Lincoln Duke of Wellington
1 Apr: Mansfield The Town Mill

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GOODBOOKS DATES
Did we publish the dates for the upcoming GoodBooks tour before Christmas? Well did we? You can't expect me to remember everything. Well, just in case we didn't, here they are. GoodBooks are good by the way. They're not books though. They're a band. Press info from 14th Floor.

1 Feb: Southampton, The Nexus
2 Feb: Bristol, Trinity Hall
3 Feb: York, Fibbers
5 Feb: Stoke, Sugarmill
6 Feb: Hull, Lamp
7 Feb: Glasgow, King Tuts
8 Feb: Aberdeen, Tunnels
10 Feb: Liverpool, EVOL
11 Feb: Newcastle, Other Rooms
12 Feb: Preston, 53 Degrees
13 Feb: Sheffield, Leadmill
14 Feb: Leeds, Cockpit
18 Feb: Reading, Fez
19 Feb: Birmingham, Academy 2
21 Feb: Cambridge, Soul Tree
22 Feb: Norwich, Arts Centre
23 Feb: Oxford, Zodiac
24 Feb: Nottingham, Junktion7
26 Feb: Manchester, Night & Day
27 Feb: London, Koko

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THE FEELING TO PLAY TISCALI SHOWCASE
The next Tiscali Showcase, produced by those Tough Cookie types as normal, will feature no less than The Feeling, Captain and Palladium. As always, the Showcase will take place at ULU in London, with highlights made available via Tiscali's music website. The bands will play on 25 Jan. Tickets are on sale now priced £12.50.

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BONNAROO PROMOTERS BUY THE SITE
The producers of US music fest Bonnaroo have bought a bulk of the land they use for their annual event, near Manchester, Tennessee. Jonathan Mayers, the boss of Superfly Productions, one of the two companies behind Bonnaroo, has told Billboard they have been in serious negotiations to buy the 530 acre site for about six months, but he hasn't said what they paid for it. He has, however, revealed details of some of the permanent fixtures his company plan to install on the site in order to cut the costs of staging the annual Bonnaroo festival, as well as confirming he plans to stage other events on the site too.

Mayer: "We always felt the land would be a good long term investment for us. It's a big investment for us, but we believe in the long term of the festival and other events we can create on the property, and the fact that we're going to be able to put permanent infrastructure there. We're really excited about that."

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DISTINCT'IVE JOIN UP WITH MRC
A newly established music company called MRC, whose founders have an extensive background in the digital domain, has announced a merger with leading breaks and dance independent Distinct'ive Records.

Confirming the deal, Distinct'ive founder and boss Richard Ford told CMU: "We are extremely pleased to announce this merger with MRC. With its advanced technology and software platform, MRC offers unrivalled expertise and positioning in this ever-evolving digital age. This merger allows for our continued creativity as an independent whilst providing huge benefits in exploring new delivery methods that satisfy the needs of our customers".

MRC co-founder Jaye Muller added: "We are extremely pleased to be merging with Distinct'ive. As well an amazing collection of artists and releases, the Distinct'ive team brings an enviable track record in the areas of A&R and TV, game and movie synch licensing".

The Distinctive deal follows another announcement by MRC just before Christmas confirming a similar deal with the Hooj Label group, which includes Hooj Choons, People In The Sky, Lost Language, Airtight and Prolekult. On that deal Muller says: "We are pleased to merge with the Hooj team. As well as bringing some great expertise, their catalog and label reputation is something very special."

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CLARKE TO BUY KOCH?
Talking of record company sales and all that kind of thing, rumour has it that a US company called Clarke are in talks to take over New York based Koch Entertainment. Clarke already holds a 10% stake in Koch's parent company Entertainment One, and according to HitsDailyDouble has offered $120 million for the whole thing.

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CAPITAL ANNOUNCE TWO NEW WEEKEND RECRUITS
Capital Radio have announced that "two of the hottest entertainment presenters on TV" will join them to present shows as part of their Saturday schedule. "Hottest" is their word, personally I've never heard of either of them, though the first one, Dave Berry, is described by Wikipedia as "the face of MTV UK" which is quite hot I suppose. And the other, Matt Brown, presented ITV2's Love Island spin off show, which is as big as it gets really. They will present special entertainment shows, initially for a four week period. Berry will present a "guests and music" show, while Brown will present a themed "30 Greatest" countdown type programme.

Dave says: "It is great that I have been given this opportunity, as I am fully aware of how dark and miserable January can be! It will be nice to bring a few laughs and a bit of rock and roll to a Saturday afternoon".

Matt says: "Having listened to Capital Radio throughout my short, yet beautiful life I can't wait to get into those legendary 95.8 studios and talk to London whilst it's having its lunch".

Capital PD Scott Muller says: "What great a way to start the New Year, these two credible presenters are fantastic additions to the schedule, and I am sure, with their quick wit, charisma and charm they will be very popular with Capital's listeners."

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1XTRA ANNOUNCE DRUM & BASS WEEK
News for all you drum & bass heads now. BBC 1Xtra has announced details of the 2007 outing of its now annual drum & bass week XtraBass which, for the first time, will include an awards event. There'll be a number of events during the week taking place at venues around the country, with 16 hours of the week's air time dedicated to the genre. Line up for the week as follows...

5 Mar: XTRABASS Presents Source from Zodiac, Oxford with Xtra Bass All Stars (L Double, Flight, Bailey, Crissy Criss) and Total Science & DJ Lee plus MC Aya and IC3.

6 Mar: XTRABASS Presents Run from Native, Bristol with Flight, Logistics, Distorted Minds Vs TC plus MC Jakes.

7 Mar: XTRABASS Presents Breakthrough from Medicine Bar, Birmingham with Flight, Alix Perez, Sabre, Skitty, Nolige, Dan B plus 1Xtra comp winner plus MC Fozz.

8 Mar: XTRABASS Presents Freshen Up from DQ Bass Bar, Sheffield with L Double, Robbo Ranx, Top Cat & Tenor Fly, Serial Killaz, Dbo General, Bongo Chilli, Dan Man and Junglist Alliance.

9 Mar: XTRABASS Presents Xplicit from the Arts School, Glasgow with Bailey, Grooverider and Fabio plus MC Tonn Piper.

10 Mar: XTRABASS Presents Urban Bass from Monkey, Swansea with Bailey, Friction plus MC SP and Rage.

11 Mar: XTRABASS AWARDS at a secret location in London.

11 Mar: XTRABASS Presents Valve Sound System from Ministry of Sound, London with Lemon D, Dillinja, Randall (recorded Friday 9th).

Press info from julia.stephenson@bbc.co.uk

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CALL THE SEARCH OFF - LILY ALLEN'S DOG'S BEEN FOUND
Good news everybody, Lily Allen's dog's been found. You might not have been aware that Ms Allen's English bull terrier Maggie May had gone missing to start with, but it disappeared last week. It seems that the dog was stolen and then sold on to a man who bought it as a Christmas present for his sister.

Allen has updated thus on her MySpace: "I have the best news ever. Maggie May is back at home safe and sound. She is riddled with fleas, a bit sad and very thin, but that's not the point. I can't tell you how overjoyed I am to have her back, how grateful I am to everyone who has sent kind words and helped to find her".

Explaining how she got the dog back, she continued: "We received a call from a man in the Leytonstone area. He said he had Maggie and had bought her as a present for his sister. He didn't really want to give her back but was persuaded by the reward. Some friends went to meet him a couple of hours later to see if it was Maggie. Luckily it was, so they left to get the money in order to get her back. They came back and were asked to follow the man and his two friends in a car a few minutes away from the main road. They did this, handed over the money and got Maggie back".

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MORE BRITNEY NONSENSE
Britney Spears is reportedly having some quality "detox time" following her much reported end-of-year partying and that 'collapsing because she was sleepy' incident at a Las Vegas club on New Year's Eve.

According to The Sun she has now gone to a spa in Arizona for some serious detoxing. Though the tabloid's source seemed keen to imply the detox session might be something more severe, but without actually saying as much, observing: "With these celebrities, 'exhaustion' sometimes means something else and a rest at a spa sometimes actually translates into something a little more serious. It's just been heartbreaking for her parents to watch Britney on this downward spiral. It's so sad".

Elsewhere in Britney news, the New York Post has reported that Britney's record company, SonyBMG's Jive Records, were not impressed when Ms Spears submitted the five songs she worked on in the latter months of 2006. The Post's Cindy Adams says that the new tracks were not up to scratch, which has heightened tensions between the singer and label execs, who are already concerned about coverage of Britney's recent lifestyle. Adams reports: "drinking, bingeing, partying... and photos with no panties, for a mother of two infants, is hitting sour notes". As, apparently, were the new tunes.

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