CMU Daily - on the inside Thursday 3rd May
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- UK government announces touting inquiry
- Guns n Roses sued over unpaid bills
- 50 Cent told to stop wearing the cross
- Muse & MCR cancel tour dates
- Bravery cancel US shows
- R Kelly releases Virginia Tech track
- Jordan on Peter
- Charlotte Church in car incident
- Skinner remixes Twang
- New Jesus And Mary Chain rumoured
- They Might Be tracklisting
- Travis man on how accident saved the band
- Wu-Tang sign to Bodog in Europe.
- Indie band hoping for 40,000 backing vocals
- Glasto boss recommends Latitude
- Glade line up announced
- Hayseed Dixie tour
- PRS invite applications for Edinburgh Festival stage
- Album review: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Baby 81
- Something In Construction update
- Real music revenues up
- Peter Gabriel announces latest digital venture
- Investment firm appoint former Yahoo! Music chief
- Tower could return to the high street
- Humphrys disses celebrity on collecting Sony Award
- Joost adds the ads
- Shephard quits Xtra Factor
- Beastie Boys on album names
- George Bush on American Idol

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TOP BIT>>
OK, a telly Top Bit today. Though, before I continue, I should point out that no one at Channel 4 or the BBC has made any effort to tell us anything about their online TV on demand services (the former of which launched earlier this year, the latter of which is due to launch in the Autumn), so it's perhaps unfair to say ITV's proposed on demand service is the best, just because they did make the effort. But I have to say, what we saw at the service's launch on Tuesday did actually look rather good.

As we mentioned yesterday, ITV.com is the third channel's stab at grabbing back audience, and ad spend, from the likes of YouTube. Offering unfettered live streaming of all four ITV channels, one month 'catch up' archives of current shows and an impressive sounding 20,000 hours of archive programmes, plus extra online-only content (including specifically commissioned online offerings and "content based communities") the website - and the timing of its launch (later this month) - is a fairly obvious attempt to usurp the BBC's iPlayer launch later this year, as well as compete with the growing popularity of YouTube et al. ITV haven't enjoyed much success in the digital and online domain to date (ITV Digital being one of UK broadcasting's biggest disasters of recent years, and ITV's online efforts to date not getting anywhere near what the Beeb have achieved), but with the new service ITV might - might - have got something right.

Backed up by shedloads of buzzwords - UGC, viewer engagement, citizen correspondents (YouTube on ITN, basically), 360 degree commissioning (everything's 360 degrees these days, have you noticed that?) - ITV.com seems like a pretty impressive attempt at doing legit commercial TV on the internet.

The commercial bit seems to consist of pre-roll advertising and flexible ad spots on the on demand content, while live streams will carry the same ads as the ITV channel being simulcast. Video ads that appear at the start and during on demand streams are surely the future of online advertising (more so than the banner ads, which we all ignore, or those ads that pop up within the window and just get in the way, which we all hate) but, of course, it's debatable how many people will sit through a ten second ad in order to view a piece of user generated content the quality of which (artistic and technical) is never guaranteed. But for someone like ITV, with hundreds of recognised and respected brands and programmes in its archives, people probably will happily view the commercial message in order to access their content of choice.

And on a more general user-friendliness level, ITV.com also looks pretty good - mainly because their player is embedded in the pages of the site (like YouTube, but unlike the Channel 4 and BBC services). For convenience this can also be popped out, allowing users to visit other websites while watching TV, or turned into a full-screen player.

ITV have suffered in terms of income and audience in recent years, but they still have massive reach, and with a user-friendly commercially viable online on demand service in place, if they can drive that audience to their online service they could well regain some of the lost ground. Though, that said, presumably ITV bosses are hoping it isn't too successful at launch - because if it is I can't help feeling it's gonna fall over. Execs admit the site has only been load tested for 200,000 concurrent users, which seems pretty small when you consider that Coronation Street peaks at 12 million viewers, and Friends Reunited, the current star of ITV's online portfolio, claims an average of around 2.6 million page views per day. Given that when Coronation Street released an exclusive online-only ending to the Tracy Barlow murder storyline, hits to the site leapt from 220,000 to 1.1 million, it doesn't take much of a grasp of maths to work out what might happen if that sort of popularity is replicated for streaming content.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how things work out over at ITV.com, and whether it can help ITV regain its status as the powerhouse of British commercial broadcasting. But that's enough telly on demand ramblings. Unless Channel 4 or the Beeb want to entertain us with their services - in which case, usual address etc etc.

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CLASSIFIEDS>>

INTERESTED IN SELLING YOUR RECORD LABEL?
Music Gain is acquiring catalogue and merging with record labels. If you are thinking of selling, or are interested in a merger with 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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INDIESTORE OF THE DAY: THE FEZ

Oh, I do like these guys. They're upbeat, and you know I like upbeat. They're a bit quirky, and you know I like quirky. They a bit jazzy, a bit rocky, and a bit electro, and you know I like jazzy rocky electro. Oh yes, and in the first track posted on their Indiestore there's some damn nice piano playing, and you know I'm a sucker for some damn nice piano playing. To be honest, I don't know a huge amount about this London band - I don't even know how many of them there are, because their MySpace says four, but their Indiestore lists seven. But I do know they recently launched an EP which consists of the three songs available to preview and buy here on their Indiestore page, and that they are all really rather good, though 'Jazz Hands' is undoubtedly the best (it's the one with the damn nice piano playing). I also know that their MySpace page is a bit all over the place, so you're better off heading to this here Indiestore page to sample their music. Enjoy.

http://www.indiestore.com/thefez

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UK GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES TOUTING INQUIRY
The government has announced it will stage an inquiry into the growth of ticket touting in the music, cultural and sporting sectors, and will seek input from those industries in its investigations.

The inquiry follows those previously reported previous discussions between government ministers and event promoters regarding the growth of touting, especially online touting. Both ministers and the live entertainment sector have expressed concern at the increasing number of touts buying up tickets to in demand events and reselling them at a marked up price, though the government has in the past stressed that it does not intend to make touting itself illegal. Rather, they have tended to look to the live sector to introduce anti-touting measures - and there have been discussions regarding what these measures could be - though some in the live sector are of the opinion only a change in the law will overcome the growing touting problem.

The new inquiry, to be chaired by Conservative MP John Whittingdale, will in essence formalise those past discussions, though presumably this time the discussions might actually lead to a change in government policy on the need for new laws to restrict touting. Topics due to be considered by the inquiry include the underlying causes of ticket touting, its impact on performers, promoters and the public, the impact of the internet on touting and, crucially, whether the resale of tickets for profit should be permitted in principle and, if not, whether promoters could stop touting through stricter terms and conditions, or whether new laws should be introduced to explicitly ban it.

Key players in the UK live sector welcomed the inquiry, but aired some caution that this inquiry, like past government led discussions on the issue, might not achieve a great deal. The BBC quotes Live Nation UK's MD Stuart Galbraith as saying that: "I have to say that I'm very more cynical about the government's intentions to do anything about ticket touting than I was at the start of this process".

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GUNS N ROSES SUED OVER UNPAID BILLS
A New Jersey company is suing Guns N Roses over allegations it is owed $107,000 for services it provided during the band's 2006 tour. Speed Of Sound has filed its suit in the Superior Court for Essex County naming the band, individual band members and three other companies involved in the tour as defendants. None of whom have, as yet, responded. Making this a very short story.

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50 CENT TOLD TO STOP WEARING THE CROSS
A Christian group in the States has demanded that 50 Cent stops wearing crosses, because they believe the context in which he wears the Christian symbols amounts to blasphemy. Fiddy has been targeted as part of attempts by a group called The Resistance to "clean-up the media's portrayal of Christianity".

The group's Mark Dice told reporters: "50 Cent is not Christian and if you listen to his lyrics it becomes clear that he is more of a Satanist than anything. He is defaming the cross and committing blasphemy by wearing it while he raps about killing people for no reason. I think a large diamond studded platinum satanic pentagram would be a little more fitting".

Asked about The Resistance's latest campaign, Fiddy's manger Chris Lighty told AllHipHop.com: "We aren't aware of this absurd request [but] they should look up our charitable deeds before casting a stone. This is entertainment and no one is forcing them to listen to the music or watch any of the videos. It's an individual choice".

God was unavailable for comment, though insiders say Jesus isn't too bothered about Fiddy's use of his logo, that he's of the opinion the cross symbol is bit "last millennium" anyway, and that those satanic pentagrams sound "kind of cool". Crazy guy, that Jesus.

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MUSE & MCR CANCEL TOUR DATES
Muse have been forced to cancel upcoming US tour dates with My Chemical Romance because members of both of the bands' entourages have been suffering from food poisoning. A number of band and crew members are described as having become "violently ill" after a gig in Virginia at the weekend, and were admitted to hospital. Thus far two gigs have been cancelled, whilst a third had its date changed, pending the crew's recovery.

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BRAVERY CANCEL US SHOWS
Elsewhere in cancellations news, The Bravery have cancelled four US tour dates in June in order to be in the UK to promote the release of their new single 'Time Won't Let Me Go', out 18 Jun, and their forthcoming second album 'The Sun And The Moon'. Shows in Reno, Salt Lake City, Denver and Omaha are all affected.

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R KELLY RELEASES VIRGINIA TECH TRACK
R Kelly is to release a song he's written commemorating the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre, and promises that proceeds from the sale of the single will be donated to The Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, a trust set up by the US university following the shootings. The singer was on tour when news of the tragedy broke last month.

The song, 'Rise Up', will be released via download on 15 May. The lyrics reportedly include the lines: "Rise up, when you feel you can't go on, rise up, and all of your hope is gone, rise up, when you're weak and you can't be strong".

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JORDAN ON PETER
Katie Price has spoken about her husband Peter Andre's run in with feeling a bit poorly. She's apparently still spending a lot of time at his bedside, which I still think is unwise, given her heavily pregnant condition - she'll get all tired and stuff.

Anyway, here's what she says: "He's really poorly. I feel really bad because if I was in hospital I would want someone with me all the time. But I physically can't do it because of the kids and work. He's usually sleeping, or drifting in and out. Yesterday I went in and he didn't even know I was there. I'm checking on him all day, calling the hospital and then every night I take him a towel in so he can smell home. I am so stressed".

You know, everyone's being far too dramatic about all this. Especially as it is only viral meningitis, not the deadly bacterial kind, that he's suffering from. It's just like having flu really, and I know, because I ended up in hospital with it myself a few years back. But in fact, most people don't even get as far as their GP with it because they just think it's some kind of bug. Hope Peter Andre doesn't die now I've said that, or it'll make me look really callous.

Speaking of which, Andre has denied rumours that he's dead. A spokesman said: "There has been a disgusting rumor circulating that Peter Andre has died. This is simply not true. Peter is feeling slightly better."

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CHARLOTTE CHURCH IN CAR INCIDENT
Charlotte Church is apparently "shaken but not hurt" after her car, a mini, was hit from behind and shunted into the back of her boyfriend Gavin Henson's car. The incident occurred in Cardiff on Sunday as the couple drove separately to their home in Llandaff. Following the accident, the pregnant singer was too upset to drive the remaining mile to her house, and was taken the rest of the way in her boyfriend's mercedes, whilst a policeman drove the mini.

A police source is quoted as saying: "The ambulance service was called but no-one was seriously hurt. But obviously Charlotte is pregnant and didn't feel happy to carry on driving in her condition. She was advised to get a medical check but said she was feeling well enough in herself."

The source added: "The damage was not very serious and both cars were still driveable. Luckily, the cars weren't travelling too fast because the road was busy."

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SKINNER REMIXES TWANG
Mike Skinner has revealed via his The Streets blog that he's done a remix for The Twang, a reworking their track 'Either Way.'

Skinner wrote: "I did a remix of The Twang's 'Either Way' song. It's been quite popular with my mates and it should be surfacing soon, so look out for it."

On work on the next Streets album, Skinner continued: "Just realised that four of my songs aren't good enough, which means losing the alien song AND the devil song. Gutted. We've even got the alien one ready to play live and no-one will ever hear it coz it's too weird. I've now got to write four more songs in three weeks if I want to have the album out this year. I think for the first I'll go for an up-tempo steppa utilising both the major and minor sevenths in a catchy running bassline".

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NEW JESUS AND MARY CHAIN RUMOURED
According to NME.com, rumours surfaced at Coachella last weekend that The Jesus & Mary Chain are planning to record a new album later this year, with the aim of a spring 2008 release date. The band's William Reid was apparently overheard talking about the plans backstage at the festival. The group made their first live appearances since 1998 last week, with a warm-up show in Pomona ahead of their appearance at the aforementioned Coachella.

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THEY MIGHT BE TRACKLISTING
They Might Be Giants have revealed the tracklisting for their new album 'The Else', which was recorded, as previously reported, in association with The Dust Brothers.

Here's what John Flansburgh says about working with The Dust Brothers: "They're electronic musicians unto themselves. When you work with them, you see how directly involved they are in the creation of their tracks. We really didn't know how they worked, when we started. But we ended up collaborating with them on a lot of different levels: We sometimes gave them beats and they created the songs around the beats. Then there were songs that were almost entire tracks that we manipulated. And then there were tracks that we gave to them to tweak and dust up in the way that they do".

And here is that tracklisting:

I'm Impressed
Take Out The Trash
Upside Down Frown
Climbing The Walls
Careful What You Pack
The Cap'm
With The Dark
The Shadow Government
Bee Of The Bird Of The Moth
Withered Hope
Contrecoup
Feign Amnesia
The Mesopotamians

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TRAVIS MAN ON HOW ACCIDENT SAVED THE BAND
Fran Healy has said that Travis were on the verge of a split until drummer Neil Primrose broke his neck back in 2002. Actually, I'm pretty sure he said this during the promotion for their last album, 2002's '12 Memories', but whatever.

Healy explained to ITV.com that the band were suffering from the pressures of working in the music industry, but that when Primrose had his accident - if you remember, he dived into a shallow swimming pool, hitting his head and causing all manner of back and neck trouble - it put everything in perspective.

The singer says: "When you start getting successful the business starts to seep in to any sort of cracks, and then they expand and push everyone apart. You then start to see each other as workmates and not friends. It is bizarre but when Neil had his accident and broke his neck we were like - 'oh no, it's Neil!' - not 'oh God, our drummer!'. I think we suddenly became friends again".

The band release their new album 'The Boy With No Name' on 7 May, plus they are on tour from 15 May.

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WU-TANG SIGN TO BODOG IN EUROPE.
Bodog Music, the music bit of online gambling, music and entertainment outfit Bodog, have announced they have signed the European rights to the Wu-Tang Clan's new album '8 Diagrams'. The Antigua based company will release the new long player, with distribution in the UK via Pinnacle and in the rest of Europe via Edel.

Confirming the deal, Bodog founder Calvin Ayre told reporters: "This is really what Bodog Music is all about: Hip-hop at its highest. With the Wu-Tang Clan being the widely respected and revered group that they are, and Bodog's international music distribution expertise, the potential of this relationship in unlimited. Wu-Tang Clan still ain't nothing to fuck with".

The new album will reach UK record shops on 10 Sep.

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INDIE BAND HOPING FOR 40,000 BACKING VOCALS
More record breaking attempts for you now. Which is good, I'm trying to break the record for most stories written in a week about people trying to break records.

This time it's an indie band called The Elusive* who are attempting the record breaking. They are hoping to release a single featuring 40,000 backing singers from all over the world. Obviously they're not expecting all 40,000 singers to rock up to a studio in Camden, rather they want people to join in on the chorus to their song 'Arrest The President(s)' by sending in their rendition of it via mobile or the net. Everyone's contributions will then be laid into the mix. About 4000 people have apparently already sent in their vocals, including The Magic Numbers and Sway, and if you want to join in you should go to this here website - http://www.arrestthepresidents.com - before 27 May. Fingers crossed they'll get enough participants to break the record. Whether they'll get enough to lead to the arrest of any presidents, I don't know.

Commenting on the project, the band's Mark Biddiss told CMU: ''The song is not an anarchic statement or a protest song. It's a simple impassioned plea for change and peace in our lifetime! The message is that the world's leaders need to be held legally accountable for their actions. This message seems to have already hit a nerve with the people who have pledged their support by singing on it. Ultimately, this song could have as many as 40,000 people worldwide singing on its chorus. We've already spoken to the Guinness Book of Records and they are really excited by it - they actually encouraged us to release the song as a single".

With that in mind, a single will be released on 8 Jul in aid of SOS Children, the world's largest charity for orphaned or abandoned children who have lost family through war and famine.

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GLASTO BOSS RECOMMENDS LATITUDE
Michael Eavis has recommended that anyone unable to get into this year's totally sold out Glastonbury Festival should go to Latitude instead.

Of course, Latitude is staged by Eavis' partners in Glasto - Mean Fiddler - so he's not entirely unbiased, though, actually, Latitude does look really really good, so we'll assume Eavis is tipping it on its credentials and not because it's being staged by his business partners. Actually, and this might get me excommunicated from planet indie, but I think I'd rather go to Latitude than Glastonbury - it being a bit smaller, but with really good comedy and literary lines up as well as some fine music. But inevitably, and as tradition dictates, the only music festival I actually make it to this year will be Bestival. But of all the festivals I don't get to, Latitude will be the one I most regret missing.

Anyway, enough of what I think, here's what Mr Eavis says: "I'm sorry that so many of you couldn't get a ticket to Glastonbury this year. I hope there will be another chance for you to come during the next four years. I know it sounds a bit tame to mention BBC TV and radio as an alternative but can I suggest another alternative that might be more attractive - namely the Latitude Festival set in a beautiful part of Suffolk. Although much smaller it has some terrific music and has a similar feel to it, by way of theatre, comedy, circus, and atmosphere".

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GLADE LINE UP ANNOUNCED
Talking of brilliant festivals I won't get to due to all round July busy-ness, the 2007 edition of top dance fest Glade will take place from 20-22 Jul, "somewhere in a field west of London". Confirmed headliners so far include Trentmoller (full live band), UNKLE (live), Derrick May, Hybrid (live), Craig Richards and Digitalism. Organisers have also announced that there will be four new venues at the festival, including one hosted by two "Detroit techno legends", a Fish Seeks Bicycle Roots Tent, an outdoor circus stage and - direct from Nevada's legendary Burning Man Festival - the Nectar Temple, a zone dedicated to "visionary arts, west coast breaks and lectures and presentations from some of the worlds foremost sociological and spiritual thinkers". So there you go. Tickets for the three days are £110. Like many festivals these days, Glade has a habit of selling out quickly, so if you want to go you should get over to http://www.gladefestival.com pretty quick. Press info from nuala@leylinepromotions.com.

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HAYSEED DIXIE TOUR
Hurrah, Hayseed Dixie have announced a series of summer tour dates, including an appearance at Download. Their new album, 'Weapons of Grass Destruction', is out now and features the band's interpretations of songs by the Sex Pistols, Scissor Sisters, Status Quo and Cliff Richard as well as original Hayseed Dixie tracks. A download only single, 'Breaking The Law' - a Judas Priest cover - is out 11 Jun.

Press info from Cooking Vinyl, and here are those dates:

7 Jun: Sheffield, The Plug
8 Jun: Donnington Park, Download Festival (Turborg Stage)
9 Jul: Isle Of Arran, Whiting Bay Hall
20 Jul: East Kirkcarswell, Wickerman Festival
21 Jul: Birmingham, Mac, Sounds In The Round
22 Jul: Plymouth, The Hub
23 Jul: Southampton, The Brook
24 Jul: Cheltenham, Town Hall
25 Jul: Swansea, Sin City
26 Jul: Bridgewater, The Palace
27 Jul: Farnham, The Maltings
28 Jul: Holmfirth, Picturedome
29 Jul: Newcastle, Academy
30 Jul: Blackpool, The Tower Lounge

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PRS INVITE APPLICATIONS FOR EDINBURGH FESTIVAL STAGE
Those PRS types have announced they are again sponsoring the new music stage at Fringe Sunday, which is a one day multi-staged open air thingimy that takes place in the middle of the Edinburgh Festival in August. It mainly features performers appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe doing little snippets of their shows, though the new music stage has, in recent years, become something of an event in itself. Any bands wanting to be considered to appear on the stage need to apply via the URL below, providing a link to one of their songs online. Music from featured artists will also get airplay on Xfm Scotland, who are co-promoting the stage. Xfm's top man Jim Gellatly will be hosting the stage, in fact. Anyway, here's the URL:

http://vista-survey.com/survey/v1/survey.dsb?ID=8444481851

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ALBUM REVIEW: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Baby 81 (Drop The Gun Recordings)
The summertime is pretty easy on most guitar bands - chuck together a half decent set of songs, some chorus heavy sing-along and easily marketable singles and you're basically set from May to September. Get yourself on the bill for some of the big festivals and your easy listening summer offering will practically sell itself. Job done. BRMC, on the other hand, prefer to do things a little differently... Their new album 'Baby 81' jumps to life with the slow paced monster track 'Took Out a Loan' and bassist/singer Peter Hayes' voice hardly changes from the cool sneer he has perfected on their other albums such as 'Howl' and 'Take Them On, On Your Own'. The heavy guitars are pitch perfect throughout, but BRMC chuck in a few de-tuned acoustics as well, which fits perfectly with the mood of some tracks like 'Weapon of Choice', which is almost definitely single worthy. The band branch out even further with the eerie sounding 'Window' which sounds like Restless Eric after a semester at the Beatles' song-writing summer school. There are some more chilled out songs with the likes 'Am I Only', which has a real air of murkiness about it, but one that Queens of the Stone Age fans will definitely warm to. BRMC have definitely not gone the easy route like some of the other bands currently touring summer albums - and this is made even more commendable by the fact that 'Baby 81' has an insane way of getting into your head and staying there. GM
Release Date: 30 Apr
Press Contact: Island IH [all]

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SOMETHING IN CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
Now, there seems to be some confusion regarding our story about indie label Something In Construction in yesterday's CMU Daily. The confusion is either down to you guys simply not paying attention, or possibly me writing it wrong. The story was reporting on SIC's announcement that from this point onwards they will not be releasing physical CD singles - ie all single releases will be digital only. However, they will continue to release physical CD albums from their roster of artists, which I think we kind of implied they wouldn't.

As reported yesterday, aside from the financial savings of doing singles exclusively digitally, SIC hope that the move will help them release singles [a] quicker, [b] more often and [c] from bands who might not tick all the boxes required to risk the investment required for a CD single release, but who are making music that deserves to be released and which, possibly, will demand a significant niche audience.

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REAL US MUSIC REVENUES UP
RealNetworks has reported that its first quarter digital music revenues increased by 18% year on year, and that its number of music subscribers for the quarter was up a million on the same period in 2006 - hitting a new high of 2.7 million. Which is lovely. For RealNetworks. Real's music services, and in particular the subscription based Rhapsody service, are, of course, much more established in the US than over here.

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PETER GABRIEL ANNOUNCES LATEST DIGITAL VENTURE
Peter Gabriel, one of the founders of one of the early digital music aggregators, OD2, has announced he is involved in a new ad funded digital music venture. The new service, We7, will make free unprotected MP3s available, but with a ten second ad attached to the front of the song file. But the ad will only play a set number of times, after that the user will have the track without advertising. The new service will also sell DRM free music without adverts.

Commenting on the new service, Gabriel told reporters: "We7 provides artists - even across the more experimental or minority genres - with the opportunity to build a new source of income from their music. Ad-funded downloads are the way to provide free music to the consumer without depriving musicians of their livelihood."

The new service, which also involves tech entrepreneur Steve Purdham and investor John Taysom, is yet to sign up any of the major record companies, meaning at launch the service will only sell independently signed music.

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INVESTMENT FIRM APPOINT FORMER YAHOO! MUSIC CHIEF
A California based investment firm called Benchmark Capital has announced it has hired former Yahoo! Music chief David Goldberg to help "evaluate investment opportunities in consumer media markets". The company's Bruce Dunlevie told reporters: "Dave is an accomplished entrepreneur, an influential music industry executive, and a driving force in the online music industry. As a pioneer in digital media, he experienced firsthand the opportunities and challenges faced by consumers, advertisers, artists, and media companies as the music industry moved online". Goldberg took the top job at Yahoo! Music after the web firm acquired his company Launch. He announced he was leaving the company back in February.

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TOWER COULD RETURN TO THE HIGH STREET
Tower Records may return to the US high street despite the once legendary music retail chain closing its doors after going into liquidation last year.

As previously reported, after the company's bankruptcy last year, Tower Records' real estate was sold off to the Great American Group, but its brand, logo and web domain was bought by Caiman Holdings, who are currently operating a Tower branded online music store. Reports suggest that Caiman are now considering opening real world stores under the Tower brand, although only a small number of large stores in key major cities, most likely New York, San Francisco and LA. Word has it the company has hired a former Tower Records exec, Kevin Hawkins, to assist with their high street ambitions.

Industry commentators have expressed mixed opinions regarding even the small scale return of Tower to the high street. Some point out that the brand still enjoys popularity among music fans, and that a real world presence in key cities could help boost online profile and sales. But others point out real estate prices in New York and LA are considerable, and question whether, given the ongoing decline of high street music retail, the venture will succeed in the long term.

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HUMPHRYS DISSES CELEBRITY ON COLLECTING SONY AWARD
We promised you some quotes and stuff from this week's Sony Awards, the UK radio industry's big awards event, which took place on Monday and the winners list of which we published Tuesday. We won't dwell on what a good night it was for the BBC in general, or newish Radio 2 recruit Chris Evans, cos everyone else has. Instead we'll run an interesting quote from Radio 4's John Humphreys who, when collecting the prize for News Journalist Of The Year, basically told the Sony panel they were fools for giving it to him.

Reading out the names of a dozen foreign correspondents based in war torn parts of the world, including the still missing BBC journalist Alan Johnston, the Today presenter observed: "The reason that I read this out is because, to be perfectly honest, I shouldn't have had this award. And that's not false modesty, because I did a perfectly competent job when I did some stuff in Iraq. But I did it for a bloody week. All those other people are doing what I did day after day, week after week, month after month. And, frankly, if we weren't so obsessed with personalities and celebrities; they are the people that should have had this award".

He's right you know.

Anyway, talking of John Humphrys, he also put to rest this week rumours he would be quitting Radio 4's prime time news show Today, which took the Best Breakfast Show prize on Monday night, by announcing he has just entered into a new contract with the Beeb which will see him present the show until at least 2009. He added that the new contract "will definitely be my last. But I have said that for the last four contracts". Elsewhere in BBC radio contract talks, the mighty Terry Wogan, another presenter whose imminent departure has been mooted in recent months, also confirmed he has signed up until 2009. He told the Guardian: "I have signed a new contract until 2009. And if I am spared, I will continue until hell freezes over".

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JOOST ADDS THE ADS
Previously reported video on demand service Joost has launched "commercially" - that is to say, their 150 content channels will start including advertising, from the likes of Coca Cola, Hewlett Packard, Intel and Nike, this month. The ads are being added as those people who signed up to take part in beta tests are being given the chance to invite friends and family to the service for free. Among the content partners providing programming to the Joost services are Viacom, CNN, Sony and Turner.

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SHEPHARD QUITS XTRA FACTOR
Ben Shephard has quit ITV2 X-Factor spin off The Xtra Factor, reportedly because he was "not that happy" when Dermot O'Leary got Kate Thornton's job. Whether that means he'd got his eyes on the flagship presenting job himself, or just that he doesn't like O'Leary, I don't know. Perhaps he's worried that with someone who can actually present doing the main show, his presenting skills would be shown up on the spin off? Or perhaps that's unfair - I don't think I've ever seen a Shephard presented show in my life - he might be brilliant for all I know. I'm sure he looked pretty good next to Thornton.

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BEASTIE BOYS ON ALBUM NAMES
The Beastie Boys have said that despite naming their new album 'The Mix-Up', they did consider naming the long player after Beyonce Knowles. On the record's present title, the group's Mike D told Xfm: "It's a little too sensible almost huh? I was a big fan of the title 'Thick Like Beyonce's Leg' but that didn't make the final cut for some reason. Beyonce's very talented and beautiful and she's probably stronger than we are... We didn't want to have any problems with her."

On the style of the new album, which he's said before is a bit of a departure, he added: "If you know us, and you know our different albums, the influences will make sense. But it's a lot different from our last album, because we play all instruments on the whole album, it's not sampled. So there's a lot of different styles of music. It might seem kinda out there if you're not that up on what we're doing and have just casually checked out a little bit of this and this, but if you've followed our albums you're gonna be well prepared".

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GEORGE BUSH ON AMERICAN IDOL
US President George W Bush has appeared on the latest episode of American Idol to acknowledge the $70m raised during the course of the talent contest's charity special last week. Bush said that the large sum raised for children living in poverty in Africa and the US showed "the good heart of America". What a pity he doesn't seem capable of showing a bit of "good heart" himself.

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