CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 24th January
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Competition authorities insist on sale before Live Nation takeover
- The Palais to go
- Highest Italian court let's P2P owners off for previous copyright crimes
- Archie Bronson Outfit take newcomer South Bank award
- Big Day Out promoters get into flag row
- Reported U2 gig ads a scam
- Rising hip hop producer commits suicide
- Coke reach agreement with ninja band
- LA rapper announces gay hip hop tour
- Elbow on the next album
- New Biffy Clyro
- More on Morello solo debut
- The Rakes take on the world
- Manson on his new album
- X Factor finalist signed by SonyBMG
- Free Good Shoes download
- The Enemy to be joined by Specials man at Coventry gig
- Questions asked as to whether Spiral Frog will ever launch
- Ingenious invest into Gabriel
- BMG launch joint venture with Indian publisher
- Warner/Chappell to offer pan-European licence too
- Fall Out Boy pissed over album leak


OK, two things are always assured in the world of CMU. Glowing reviews of anything to do with Ben Folds, and frequent rants about DRM. You'll get the former tomorrow, so let's do the latter now shall we?

DRM, or rather no DRM, has been something of a discussion point at MIDEM this year, both in discussion sessions and in more informal surroundings. Speculation is starting to grow that one of those major record companies might be about to break on the whole DRM thing, and to allow some, or may be even all, of their catalogue to be sold in non-protected MP3 formats. I'm not sure whether that speculation actually has any basis in fact, but on the off chance it has I've hired in a church choir to start singing 'Hallelujah' here in the CMU office if and when any major label makes such an announcement.

We've been over this territory many many times here in the CMU Daily, so I won't bore you with a lengthy diatribe (and anyway, look at the time, I need to get to the point quickly) but on the off chance any of you out there are participating in any important strategy type meetings regarding DRM in the next few weeks will you please do me a favour? Take all the execs who have decision making powers in this domain over to a PC, download some tracks via iTunes, burn the tracks to CD (as the iTunes DRM allows), take the CD out of the computer, put it back into the computer, rip the tracks through Audio Catalyst or any track acquisition programme of your choice, as MP3s obviously, and then distribute those unprotected music files around everyone in the office. Then encourage everyone in that office to join in with a collective chant - "DRM DOES NOT WORK".

Then instigate one of those brainstorming sessions where you all imagine a world where you are no longer constrained by the limiting business models of Apple et al who are using your content to flog bits of computer hardware. Where anyone can sell music compatible with the market dominant iPod - where your consumers aren't locked in to buying their music from one, and only one, record store (and where the frustration of such limitations drives many to go to illegal sources of MP3 music instead). And then remind everybody participating that that is the world that will exist once the major record companies overcome their paranoia driven obsession with DRM.

And should anyone in that meeting still advocate any DRM, over and above that used for tracking or previewing purposes after those two exercises, then you have my permission to kick their heads in. Or to report them to their shareholders for being a bit stupid.

And here ends our latest rant on DRM. Feel free to share it.


It was half way through my 312th listening of the latest long player offering from those Dub Pistols - coming soon via their new label Sunday Best - that it occurred to me we'd never made Barry Ashworth and friends MSOTD - but consider that omission rectified. Dub Pistols have been so much present in the CMU consciousness for such a long time now (certainly since 1998 long player 'Point Blank') that it still surprises me when I meet people who are unaware of their work. If you too are not fully experienced in all things Dub Pistols then up coming long player 'Speakers And Tweeters' is a great place to start, because it is a really strong album, and already one of my favourites of the year. But if you're not in a position to get a sneaky pre-release listen, then a visit to their MySpace page is a good taster in the meantime. On the player you'll find a track from the new album, 'Running From The Thoughts', featuring The Specials' Terry Hall, plus there are tracks from the aforementioned 'Point Blank' and 2001's 'Six Million Ways To Live', including the brilliant 'World Gone Crazy'. Plus there are loads of tour dates, pictures, and background bits of info. All in all, a definite go see. And do get your hands on that new album just as soon as you can.


Anyone interested in a Brixton Academy? Just two previous careful owners, sale forced by world domination concerns? Well, you might be in luck. The Competition Commission has formally ruled that if live entertainment conglom Live Nation want to buy a majority stake in the gig venue owning Academy Group (which, as previously reported, they do) then they must first agree to sell two of the merged enterprise's London venues.

Live Nation or, rather, their joint venture with Gaiety Investments, Hamsard, has been told that for the proposed merger to go ahead they must commit to sell either the Brixton Academy (currently owned by the Academy Group) or the Hammersmith Apollo (currently owned by Live Nation), and either the Shepherds Bush Empire (currently owned by the Academy Group) or The Forum (currently owned by Mean Fiddler, which is in turn owned by Hamsard). Competition officials say that if Live Nation was allowed a controlling interest in all four of those venues then there would be a "substantial lessening of competition in relation to certain live music venues in London" which, they fear, might result "in rentals at the venues concerned being higher than would otherwise be the case".

The Competition Commission's ruling is not a surprise because, as previously reported, a provisional announcement in November had indicated a venue sale would be required to achieve regulator approval, though, officially at least, Live Nation had remained hopeful that the monopoly authorities could ultimately be talked round, despite opposition to their takeover plans from a number of influential concert promoters, who also feared the deal would lead to increased rental prices, and possibly unfairly favour Live Nation's own concert promotion division.

In a statement yesterday, the Competition Commission said: "Hamsard will not be permitted to acquire a controlling interest in Academy until there is a binding sale / purchase commitment for the venues in question. The sale will need to be approved by the CC so that it is made to a suitable purchaser(s) and is likely to include venue management and booking teams, contracts with customers and suppliers as well as customer information and contact lists, in order to help ensure the viability of the venues for any purchaser(s)".


Elsewhere in London venue news not a sale but a demolition. The previously reported campaign to save the Hammersmith Palais has failed after local councillors voted to approve plans to demolish the legendary West London haunt. The site where the Palais currently sits will be redeveloped into offices - which is a missed opportunity if you ask me, because if they were to build a school on the site then the Palais' regular pop night, School Disco, could have carried on regardless. Confirming the decision to assign the Palais to history, Councillor Lucy Ibimy said: "We recognise the contribution the Palais has made to the West London music scene, but the golden days of the club are long gone."


The top criminal court in Italy has made an interesting ruling which could enable users and operators of P2P networks to avoid legal action if they share copyright content via their networks without licence. The court was hearing an appeal from two former students of Turin Polytechnic Institute, both prolific file swappers, who ran a P2P network for a short time in the mid 90s. After authorities closed down their P2P operation a lower Italian court found them guilty of the crime of 'illegal duplication', passing a one year jail sentence. But that conviction has been overturned on the grounds that file sharing of copyright content can only be considered a crime according to current Italian law if the people doing the sharing are profiting from the activity, which the defendants in the current case did not.

Although a victory for advocates of unlicensed P2P, it is unclear just how landmark this ruling really is, even within the Italian jurisdiction. Although it means people who use or operate P2P networks without making a profit cannot be convicted for their file sharing, it doesn't tell us whether a civil lawsuit for damages pursued by the record labels (the route the vast majority of anti-P2P legal action has taken) would be any less effective than before. Italian record industry trade body also tried to play down the significance of the ruling by stressing it was already lobbying government to introduce new laws which would mean the defence used in the latest case, ie no profit no crime, would no longer stand up in court.


It was the South Bank Awards in London yesterday, an interestingly cross genre affair which saw the really rather wonderful Archie Bronson Outfit beat West End reality show winner Connie Fisher, Spooks actor David Oyelowo, artist Jamie Shovlin and comedian-come-TV-presenter Simon Amstell to take the Best Breakthrough prize.

Other music based awards went to Amy Winehouse who won the Pop Music prize for her album 'Back To Black', the BBC Philharmonic who took the Classical Music prize for their season of Shostakovich symphonies, 'His Heroes And Comrades', while recently appointed ITV chairman Michael Grade presented an Outstanding Achievement award to the surviving members of The Who.

The awards event will be screened on ITV this coming Sunday at 11.45pm.


Promoters of Australia's touring festival Big Day Out, which kicked off in, erm, New Zealand last Friday, have got into a row with key politicians after discouraging festival goers from bringing flags to the upcoming Sydney event.

The controversy began when the festival's co-director Ken West expressed concern in a newspaper interview of how Australia's national flag had been adopted by nationalistic and racist groups in Australia (much like the union flag and, more so, the English flag, have been at times over here). Because the Sydney date of the Big Day Out is normally around or on Australia Day it is common for festival goers to bring their country's flag with them to wave during the day. But citing the use of the flag by white Australians during violent run ins with Lebanese groups in Sydney back in 2005, and between whites and Eastern European groups earlier this month at the Australian Open tennis tournament, he said that visitors to the Big Day Out shouldn't bring flags with them, concluding: "The Australian flag was being used as gang colours. It was racism disguised as patriotism and I'm not going to tolerate it".

The comment led to media reports that the flag had been banned by Big Day Out, and that any flags being taken into the festival would be confiscated. Politicians and war veteran groups were quick to criticise the festival's promoters, with the country's Prime Minister John Howard and New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma leading the criticism. That said, some rival politicians, mainly from the Australian Democrats, said they agreed with West that the country's flag had started to take on sinister nationalistic connotations.

While continuing to discourage the bringing of flags to the event, and stressing concerns that flag waving could be construed negatively and cause conflict between audience members, promoters issued a statement yesterday stressing they had not actually banned flags from the festival. They said: "Contrary to the reports in the media, it was never our intention to disrespect the symbolism of the Australian or any other flag. We are not banning the Australian flag but are simply discouraging its use for anti-social purposes at the Big Day Out. We state unequivocally that flags will not be banned at any Australian Big Day Out show in the foreseeable future".


Ads have reportedly been placed in various media advertising U2 concerts in London and Paris which is a bit odd because no one seems to have told Bono and co that they are happening. They are planning on spending much of 2007 in the studio working on a new album (while, presumably, single handedly saving the world, in Bono's case at least). Having heard about the gig ads, the band have issued a statement via their official website reading thus: "Some fans have been in touch to let us know of adverts appearing in the press offering tickets for U2 shows in London and Paris this year. Take it from us, these adverts are a scam - there are no live plans for this year. Do not buy tickets for U2 shows unless you've read it here first."


David 'Disco D' Shayman, an up and coming hip hop record producer, who worked with 50 Cent on the track 'Ski Mask Way' on the 2005 album 'The Massacre', and produced the much talked about but never physically released Kevin Federline track 'PopoZao', has reportedly been found dead in New York after a suspected suicide. The producer, who also worked on a range of film and advertising projects, was known to suffer from manic depression. Friends have said that Shayman had recently been particularly depressed after breaking up with his fiance, and because of financial problems due to late payments from various projects he had worked on.

Paying tribute to Shayman, DJ Strong told "I can't believe this has happened to such a high-energy forward moving person. He had so much to look to in the future and I met him through his business and friendship with [DJ] Warrior. I can remember him drinking tea all night when we all went to a white party in Hollywood. That's the kind of dude he is, just a simple and real human being. Disco D we will miss you."


Coke have reached an agreement with that unsigned London band who claimed the drinks giant had ripped off one of their songs and videos for a TV ad campaign in South America. The band, 7 Seconds Of Love, had worried that they wouldn't be able to afford to sue the drinks brand over the alleged copyright theft, especially if the litigation would need to take place in Argentina where the ad was made and aired. But seemingly Coke weren't too keen to face the PR damage that could be created if they took on an unsigned band in the courts and, having accepted that their ad "borrowed liberally" from 7 Seconds' song 'Ninja', and the video they made for it, they decided to settle out of court (which seems rather sensible if you ask me - odd to see common sense coming out of a multi-national's legal department).

The bands Joel Veitch told reporters on Monday: "They [Coke] have a policy of not litigating against bands and we came to a nice agreement". The financial settlement reached has not be disclosed, although the band are expected to donate some of the money to charity.

A Coke spokesman added: "The Coca-Cola Company has a long history of working with some of the best artists around the world. The creative talent of 7 Seconds Of Love is quite evident and we wish them all the best in their musical endeavours".

The out of court settlement isn't the only good news for 7 Seconds Of Love. The whole incident, which began when fans alerted Veitch to the similarity between the ad and his work, might just help the band launch themselves too. They plan to capatilise on the media coverage of the Coke dispute by digitally releasing 'Ninja' in a bid to get into the singles charts. Veitch continued: "It's really good for the band. You never know, maybe we could get into the charts. We've never had the money to do a very good job, but now we've got into a good studio and have got a fantastic management team behind us. Getting the band going would be brilliant, jumping around in front of thousands of people is better than fiddling with computers".


LA based rapper Deadlee, unusual in the hip hop community by being openly gay, has announced he will headline what he reckons is the first ever hip hop tour featuring exclusively gay, lesbian or bisexual artists. Going by the name HomoRevolution Tour, Deadlee, real name Joseph Lee, hopes the venture might change opinions within a community traditionally perceived as being pretty homophobic.

Lee told "The HomoRevolution Tour is a direct challenge to the old status quo in hip hop. Times are changing and if openly gay rappers aren't invited then we are kicking the door in - and inviting ourselves... we are taking the mic. It's our turn too".

Possibly in a bid to ensure column inches for the tour, Lee has been dissing some of the hip hop genre's biggest names for their past homophobia (which is probably justified) while publically questioning their sexuality (probably less so). Lee: "Eminem was called out for his juvenile, hateful approach to homosexuality, especially in his song 'Criminal. He was the biggest rapper at the time and if he used the same song as a diss to Blacks or Latinos, he would probably be dead. Eminem likes to pick on the 'weak' but gay[z] aint weak and he might be a fag himself. He knew all the subcultures in that song".

Meanwhile on 50 Cent, who once told Playboy "I don't like gay people around me, because I'm not comfortable with what their thoughts are", Lee continued: "Fuck him. I don't like ignorant bitches around me, so he can suck my gun. He is a classic man who had homo-feelings and chooses to lash out because he is afraid he might act out on his true feelings. 50 Cent has deep rooted homosexual tendencies".

The HomoRevolution Tour kicks off in San Diego on 29 Mar.


Elbow frontman Guy Garvey has told 6Music that their new album, the follow up to 2005's 'Leaders Of The Free World', will be a bit different. He told the BBC digital station: "On 'Leaders Of The Free World' you heard the big room all over it. You won't hear that this time. It takes you into different atmospheres for each song".

Although the new album is as yet untitled (thought 'Ustinov' and 'Teasing The Brim' are apparently contenders), Garvey said they had already decided on the cover artwork: "On the cover they'll be a picture of [drummer Richard] Jupp, with a fedora hat on, but you can only see one eye? He's teasing the brim down over the other eye with a coquettish look on his face".


The wonderful Biffy Clyro have confirmed that their next single off upcoming album 'Puzzle' will be 'Saturday Superhouse', and it will be released on 5 Mar. The album is due in May.


Hot on the tails of the news that Rage Against The Machine will reunite for this year's Coachella Festival, the band's Tom Morello has confirmed his previously reported debut solo album, which will come out under the moniker The Nightwatchman, will be released in the US on 24 Apr, and will be called 'One Man Revolution'.


Talking of stories related to Rage Against The Machine (they're about to be mentioned in a quote), The Rakes have said their new album will tackle terrorism, which is good news, because it's about time someone tackled terrorism. Oh, perhaps they mean they'll sing about it, rather than actually take proactive steps to stop it. Not so good. Ah well, here's what the band's Alan Donohue told Gigwise about their new long player: "It sounds really pretentious, well it doesn't if you hear the record, but it's about different characters, quite day-to-day characters, and their responses to what's going on in the world: the bigger stuff, like terrorism. It's not really political but it's a bit about the war in Iraq, but we definitely don't wanna be like Rage Against The Machine or anything". See, there's the RATM mention.

Actually, I quite like the sound of this project, and in particular the track 'The World Was A Mess But His Hair Was Perfect', mainly because I think it's a brilliant song title, but also because of the theme of the track - Donohue: "The character in that song is like a sort of vacuous male model who would go on protests and war marches and things like that, only because it might be cool or something".


Possibly keen to keep his mind off marital woes, Marilyn Manson is keeping busy completing his new album. In a posting on his website he has reported recordings for the new long player are now in their "latter stages", adding that he plans to call the album 'Eat Me, Drink Me'. No release date has been set, though Manson does say he plans to tour once the album is out.


Ben Mills who, I'm reliably informed by a reliable informant, was one of the semi-finalists on the last series of the X Factor, has been signed up by SonyBMG, meaning he is now label mates with the shows' overall winner Leona Lewis and runner up Ray Quinn. All of which means he too can join that big list of global stars that have already come out of the X Factor franchise like, erm, hang on, no, can't think of any. Oh, no, G4, they were from X Factor right? They were kind of successful I guess. And despite being awful. Well done them. Oh, and him too.


Free Good Shoes download anyone? How about 'Ice Age', a track from their forthcoming album 'Think Before You Speak', out on 26 Mar? Well, use this URL then.


The Enemy, who are a band, by the way, have confirmed that Neville Staples, singer with The Specials and subsequently one of the Fun Boy Three, will join them on stage when they play both bands' home town Coventry on 9 Feb. Staples will join the band for renditions of The Specials tracks 'Too Much Too Young' and 'A Message To You Rudy'. Which should be cool. The Coventry date is somewhere among the following The Enemy tour listings...

23 Jan: Cardiff Barfly
24 Jan: Manchester Night and Day
25 Jan: Newcastle Digital
26 Jan: Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire
27 Jan: Glasgow King Tuts
29 Jan: Leicester Charlotte
30 Jan: Nottingham Rescue Rooms
31 Jan: Leeds Cockpit
1 Feb: London Kings College
2 Feb: Southampton Joiners
3 Feb: Bristol Louisiana
5 Feb: Liverpool Academy 2
6 Feb: Stoke Sugarmill
7 Feb: Birmingham Bar Academy
8 Feb: Stratford-upon-Avon Cox's Yard
9 Feb: Coventry Coloseum


Billboard yesterday referred to Spiral Fong as the "much ballyhooed music service", which is a great expression and one I intend to use on a much more regular basis. Anyway, Spiral Frog, the previously reported (and much ballyhooed, don't forget) ad funded free download service, due to launch later this year, is in the news this week because of reports that the whole venture is about to go defunct. Rumours began when CEO Robin Kent left the project over the Christmas break, and began to spread when the company withdrew from a MIDEM event this week. Now CNET reports that five management team members and three board members have resigned from the company, throwing its future into considerable doubt. As previously reported, the Spiral Frog business model proposes giving away free DRM protected music files that come with ads attached - the labels earn a fee from the ad. Universal Music Group signed up to participate in the venture last year.


Music content entertainment development investment bods Ingenious have confirmed a new joint venture with Peter Gabriel's company Real World which will see the launch of a new joint venture business that will support the North American release of Gabriel's next solo album. The joint venture company, which will reportedly get £2 million from Ingenious' funds, will be called High Level Recordings. Confirming the deal, Ingenious' Duncan Reid told reporters: "We are really pleased to be offering such a quality opportunity to investors which we intend to continue both for the music and live VCTs".


BMG Music Publishing has formed a joint venture with New Delhi based Deep Emotions Publishing, who already licence BMG's catalogue for the Indian market, and which will see the two companies sign up Indian songwriters. The two companies hope to develop the music publishing industry in the country, where many composers and songwriters assign all their rights to film production companies rather than hanging on to copyrights themselves for future gain.

Confirming the new venture, Deep Emotions MD Achille Forler told reporters: "Often those who create the songs that are on the lips of millions are faced with insurmountable financial struggles and have the greatest difficulty in retaining and protecting their copyrights or collecting a fair return for their critical creative efforts. This is a landmark deal which will immensely benefit the songwriters, in particular, but also the Indian music industry as a whole".

BMG Music Publishing International president Andrew Jenkins added: "Together we believe we can be pioneers in the field of music publishing on the Indian subcontinent. I fully expect our joint venture company to sign up the most exciting and innovative songwriters working in India today. With BMG's global resources, we will be able to provide them with the same respect and support that we do for Robbie Williams, Shania Twain, Coldplay and all of the other songwriters who have entrusted their works to us".


Another publisher is going to offer a pan-European system for licensing its catalogue for digital or mobile uses. Following on from EMI's announcement that it is launching such a system, now Warner/Chappell is reportedly developing a similar service, though they are likely to enable all royalty collecting societies to offer pan-European licences on their behalf (the EMI system is only available via the UK's MCPS-PRS or Germany's GEMA). Billboard report that Warner/Chappell chiefs met with all the collecting societies at MIDEM yesterday providing details of how societies will be able to offer the continent wide licences, seemingly offering a more flexible system than that previously proposed by the major.


I'm not sure it's worth bands getting stressed about their albums getting leaked online prior to release these days, it being pretty much the norm, and as Pete Wentz knows, worse things can circulate on the net than your music, but the Fall Out Boy bassist says he's a bit pissed off that his band's new long player, 'Infinity On High', is already doing the rounds on the net, even though it's not due out until 5 Feb. Though his main concern seems to be that online leaks might impact on record sales.

He says: "This isn't the end of the world, [but] it certainly feels pretty terrible. We understand those who have to sneak a peek at the presents under the tree the night before, but please remember that as the music industry changes more and more, we only put out a record so we can keep touring and travelling. We want to keep this going for as long as possible. It is unfortunate that a couple of vultures in a plant somewhere can ruin this vision so easily".

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