CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 23rd May
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Universal's BMG publishing acquisition gets go ahead
- SoundExchange offer royalty deal to smaller webcasters
- De Souza's English scrutinised: Spector trial update
- Foxy Brown ordered to submit DNA in beauty salon case
- Rhymes settles fan assault lawsuit
- Ben Weisman dies
- Elton John cancels whole European tour
- The Bravery on new tracks
- Klaxon/CSS lovematch
- Smashing Pumpkins make live return
- Bands crash ticket servers
- Justice announce exclusive show
- To My Boy album news
- REM start work on new album
- Prince gigs in LA
- MIA cancels Sasquatch appearance
- Pull Tiger Tail tour
- More takeover nonsense
- EMI US appoint new digital chief
- Rhino US downsizes
- IPC work with indie newsagents on NME promotion
- Mail on Sunday defends covermounts
- EMAP deny Scottish radio station sale
- Mel C on Spice Girls reunion. Again
- Talk about Mick Jagger's penis, anyone?

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TOP BIT: BORN TO ROCK AUCTION>>
You may well remember how back at the start of the year we plugged the 'Born To Rock' exhibition that our friends at BigTime were staging as part of the Harrods Rocks month at Harrods in London. Those of you with extra good memories will remember that at the core of the Born To Rock exhibition was the RockCouture collection of guitars - a unique collection of electric guitars each one of which has been customised by a leading artist, designer or musician - with designs from the likes of Ronnie Wood, Rankin, David LaChapelle, Graham Coxon, Lord Richard Rogers, Sir Peter Blake, Jennifer Lopez and Bono all featured (check http://www.borntorock.tv/theguitars/rockcouture to see the designs). And those with even better memories will remember that we reported that those guitars would be auctioned in aid of various charities, and in particular Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, and especially those with the good memories, we are pleased to announce that the auction will take place next week, Thursday 31 May, at the Gibson Hall in the City of London, supported by BT Vision and musical instrument insurers Allianz, and with Lord Dalmeny, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby's UK, set to wield the gavel. Thirty of these unique guitars will be up for auction in aid of charities including Amnesty International, Keep A Child Alive, the Variety Club Children's Charity and, of course, Maggie's. Guitars under the hammer include the one designed by photographer Rankin featuring one Heidi Klum striking a rather provocative pose, another designed by Bryan Adams featuring one Kate Moss strutting her stuff, one from David LaChapelle featuring model and burlesque artiste Amanda Lepore in the buff and one made by Patrick Cox, wrapped in python skin, plus the one you Londoners no doubt saw in the big Harrods Rocks ad campaign, Hedi Slimane's wonderful Union Jack guitar featuring over 4,500 Swarovski Crystals.

Any of you out there with a charitable heart, money to burn and some kind of aspiration to own one of these unique works of rock art should either get themselves to the auction itself or, and here's the good news for you non-London types, sign up to participate in the live online auction being staged by eBay Live Auctions. We'll tell you how to sign up to bid online in tomorrow's CMU Daily, but if you are interested in attending the auction you should get in touch with the Born To Rock team right now to request a registration form - email borntorock@bigtime.tv or call Mary on 020 7538 9946. Meanwhile, if you are interested in coming along to the auction as a spectator, well the event is pretty oversubscribed, but we have managed to secure a couple of invites for CMU Daily readers. If you are interested in attending as our guests email borntorock@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk

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CMU AT THE BRIGHTON FESTIVAL

The Brighton Festival is in its third and final week with even more brilliant theatre, comedy, art, dance, talks, debate, cabaret and music to come. CMU's sister publication, ThreeWeeks, is covering it all, and you can check the coverage at http://www.threeweeks.co.uk, with music reviews here each day in the CMU Daily. Today, one last batch of reviews from last weekend's The Great Escape, with four more TGE gig reviews from team CMU/ThreeWeeks.

Candie Payne
Candie Payne earned the respect and admiration of the audience through her blend of genres as diverse as soul, Motown, folk, indie and rock'n'roll, as well as her beautifully sultry vocal tones, new single 'I Wish I Could Have Loved You More' being the highlight, its chilled-out beats and relaxed melody being perfect for the songstress' voice. But although Payne's set was varied in terms of musical influences, she failed to adapt her vocals accordingly, and her performance became a lacklustre one which made the crowd increasingly impatient for it to end. For those simply looking for nice, pleasant renditions of musically varied but vocally limited songs, look no further than Candie Payne. This is a talented songwriter who just needs to work on her live performance.
Honey Club, 19 May, 8:00pm
tw rating 3/5
[rw]

The Maccabees
Striding on stage with effortless confidence to the loudest welcome I heard all night, the Maccabees looked and acted as if they'd been at this festival lark for years. Taking no time for niceties, they got straight on and did what they do best: sharp staccato vocals, jerky fast-paced guitars and infectious rhythms I defy anyone to stand still to. The crowd lapped it up, singing along to every song and cheering raucously, making the band even more exuberant and brimming with confidence. Towards the end of this energetic, exciting set, the frontman took time to thank the audience for their support, showing that this is a great live band who'll never forget their roots on their inevitable rise to indie superstardom.
Honey Club, 19 May, 9:00pm
tw rating 4/5
[rw]

Jack Penate
Standing no more than 5'10" with scruffily frizzy hair and nerdy-looking clothes, Jack Penate doesn't look like your average pop or indie star - nor does he sound it - which is always a good thing. Blending pop, reggae, indie and ska with the odd funky bass line or two, Jo Whiley's new favourite singer-songwriter ran through his up-tempo, up-beat tunes with great enthusiasm and exuberance, which was clearly shared by the crowd. Now and again, Penate's mid-song natters were an entertaining break, proving just how grateful he is for the support that has propelled him from a virtual unknown into the limelight as 2007's hot new thing in just a few short months. A fun, feel-good performance from an artist whose only way is up.
The Beach Club, 19 May, 9:30pm
tw rating 3/5
[rw]

Micah P Hinson
After trying and failing to see British Sea Power, I found myself at the Red Roaster Café waiting to see an act I knew very little about. My nerves increased as Micah P Hinson walked on and mumbled a quick, quiet hello to the crowd in his smooth Texan drawl, because I frankly doubted his ability to please this crowd. However, my nerves were melted away by his country-tinged folk and beautifully rich vocals, reminiscent of such legends as Johnny Cash. Playing just guitar and accompanied by banjo and drums, his languid, chilled-out music was the perfect soundtrack to this laidback venue. Undoubtedly my favourite gig of the day, I left feeling happy, charmed and a witness to something very special indeed.
Red Roaster Café, 19 May, 10:15pm
tw rating 5/5
[rw]

ThreeWeeks in Brighton is only possible because of the kind support of Latest 7 http://www.latest7.co.uk - plus tune into the Latest radio show, every afternoon on Radio Reverb, listen online via http://www.latest7.co.uk/radio

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UNIVERSAL'S BMG PUBLISHING ACQUISITION GETS GO AHEAD
All go this week in the world of major music ownership news. European competition officials yesterday gave the Universal Music Group the go ahead to takeover Bertelsmann's BMG Music Publishing, which was nice.

European regulators, as you all surely remember, had been investigating the possible competition implications of merging the BMG Music Publishing operation with Universal's music publishing division ever since Bertelsmann announced its intent to sell its publishing company to Universal last September. Although cleared by US regulators last November, European officials, fresh from having their approval of the SonyBMG merger in the recorded music sector overturned in the European courts, were more cautious about the proposed deal, and undertook more in-depth investigations into its implications.

While Universal initially said it was confident that the merger would not have any anti-competitive effects on the music industry, mainly because a merged Universal/BMG publishing would still be slightly smaller than market leader EMI Music Publishing, in the end they did agree to sell off some of the catalogues owned by BMG or themselves in a bid to allay fears that their new publishing business would be too dominant. Among the catalogues now up for sale (should you be interested, we're thinking of having an office whip round and putting in a bid for Zomba) are Rondor UK, Zomba UK, BBC Music, 19 Songs, 19 Music and the European license for the Zomba US catalogue.

Confirming the merger had been approved, but only because of those concessions, the EC said in a statement yesterday: "The proposed merger, as initially notified, raised serious doubts as regards adverse effects on competition in the market for music publishing rights for online applications. However, the Commission's investigation found that these concerns would be removed by the remedies package proposed by the parties concerning the divestiture of a number of publishing catalogues".

Needless to say, Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris welcomed the decision, telling reporters: "This is an historic moment for us as we combine the best creative and strategic assets of these two very accomplished publishing businesses". The merged venture will operate under the Universal Music Publishing Group banner and will be led by Universal's existing publishing chief David Renzer. What that means for top execs at BMG Music Publishing I don't know, though you assume some cuts will be made somewhere in the hierarchy once the two companies' operations are properly combined.

Pan-European independents group IMPALA, who, as you all know, don't like major music companies merging all that much (unless the majors promise to fund independent digital rights agencies as part of the deal - but that's another story), welcomed the fact that Universal had been forced to sell off some of their publishing assets in order to win approval for the deal, but added that they would now investigate the merger deal in more detail before deciding whether or not to challenge it through the courts in the way they successfully challenged the approval given to the SonyBMG merger.

On the importance of the concessions, the trade body told reporters: "IMPALA maintains that the industry and Commission must work together on rebalancing the effects of concentration in a manner that addresses the full scope of the market challenges and the digital future facing the music industry. [We] have been calling on the majors and the Commission since 2000 to seize the opportunity to work together on a blueprint for mergers within the scope of market recovery. Earlier this year [we] agreed a full package of merger remedies with Warner that would apply if Warner acquires EMI". That Warner remedy package, of course, was not without controversy, and reportedly included the Warner commitment to help fund new indie digital rights agency Merlin - the remedy we were alluding to back there in that last paragraph.

Concluding, IMPALA president Patrick Zelnik told CMU: "With adequate checks and balances against concentration, the music industry can drive itself out of crisis and deliver its economic and social potential. IMPALA has led the way so far with the successful challenge of the SonyBMG merger and the negotiation of far-reaching remedies with Warner".

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SOUNDEXCHANGE OFFER ROYALTY DEAL TO SMALLER WEBCASTERS
The body that collects royalties from US webcasters, SoundExchange, has offered a deal to smaller web radio operators as part of the ongoing royalties dispute in the American internet radio sector.

The rights body presumably hopes the deal will separate the small guys of web radio from the big congloms who, SoundExchange have previously claimed, are using talk of smaller webcasters going out of business because of a proposed royalty hike to get themselves out of paying a fair rate for using music on their online services.

As previously reported, the American internet radio sector is facing a considerable increase in the royalties it has to pay music owners after a ruling by the US Copyright Royalties Board earlier this year. Attempts to persuade the CRB to reconsider the royalty hike failed, though the Board did agree to postpone the date the new rates kick in. Meanwhile the net radio sector has been busy lobbying political types in a bid to stop the royalty increases that way - as a result of which bills have now been put forward to both the Senate and House Of Representatives that would lock web radio royalties to those paid by satellite radio, meaning each web station would pay considerably less.

With the web radio lobby winning both political and popular support, SoundExchange has announced it is willing to defer payment of new royalty rates for any webcaster whose revenues are less than $1.25 million. The collecting society says the move is a gesture designed to help the web radio sector properly establish itself, and is obviously a bid to avoid the tricky PR of smaller web radio services known for championing newer and alternative artists going out of business because of the record industry's royalty demands. It is also no doubt an attempt to stop the big congloms whose online music services are also affected by the royalty increase from positioning themselves as defenders of the little guys when really they are most interested in keeping their own royalty costs down.

Confirming the deal, SoundExchange Exec Director John Simson told reporters: "Although the rates revised by the CRB are fair and based on the value of music in the marketplace, there's a sense in the music community and in Congress that small webcasters need more time to develop their businesses".

But Jake Ward of SaveNetRadio, the coalition of webcasters large and small who are opposing the royalty hike, said he wasn't impressed with the SoundExchange offer, telling reporters: "A proposal like this would doom small webcasters and kill large webcasters. Deeming a webcaster 'large' and subject to the higher rates, due to its popularity, ignores the fact that many of these larger sites are still small, struggling companies. It would also force small companies to stay small. There's no question that webcasters with government-set revenue caps would invest less, innovate less and promote less".

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DE SOUZA'S ENGLISH SCRUTINISED: SPECTOR TRIAL UPDATE
A videotape of Phil Spector's former chauffeur being questioned by police just hours after actress Lana Clarkson was shot dead at the legendary producer's Beverley Hills home was shown in court yesterday as the Spector murder trial resumed.

As previously reported, driver Adriano De Souza claims that shortly after he heard a bang at Spector's mansion home (he was in the car parked outside at the time) he saw Spector appear at a side door and heard him say "I think I killed somebody". De Souza's murder scene evidence is crucial to the prosecution's case. The defence are trying to damage it by claiming that Brazilian immigrant De Souza had a poor grasp of English and misheard Spector saying something like "I think somebody was killed". They are also making allegations that he has been encouraged by the prosecution to testify that he is certain what Spector said in return for favours regarding his own immigration issues.

It was with regard to the first allegation that the prosecution played the video of De Souza being interviewed by detectives five hours after the shooting. The video reportedly showed that, while De Souza has a heavy Brazilian accent, he never seemed to struggle understanding the detectives during the intense and stressful questioning he was subjected to. At one point the driver asks whether he was in danger as a witness because Spector was such a rich man. A detective tells him he shouldn't be in any danger but that he was sure to be contacted by investigators hired by the producer's attorneys. Telling him the shooting would be "high profile" and "newsworthy", the detective says: "I don't think you're in danger. But do I think his attorney is going to contact you? Yes. Just tell the truth. You are not obligated to talk to anyone".

The defence initially objected to the video being shown in court, but after it had been shown they leaped on one bit in particular. Under increasingly intense police questioning as to whether De Souza was absolutely sure that Spector had said "I think I killed somebody", the driver eventually hesitated and said: "I think so. I think so. I'm not sure".

Back in the court room defence attorney Bradley Brunon questioned De Souza about that moment of doubt, but while admitting he had said "I'm not sure" while being questioned by police, the driver this time remained certain that Spector had uttered the words ""I think I killed somebody" shortly after Clarkson's death.

The case continues.

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FOXY BROWN ORDERED TO SUBMIT DNA IN BEAUTY SALON CASE
Foxy Brown has been ordered to submit a DNA sample to Broward County prosecutors in a bid to determine whether she spat on the owner of the Pembroke Pines beauty salon in Florida. As you'll remember Foxy, real name Inga Marchand, is accused of causing a fracas at the beauty salon back in February after being asked to leave because the store was closing. Marchand is accused of throwing hair glue and spitting on the owner of the store during the incident. She also then had a run in with the police officer called to attend to the altercation. Brown turned down a plea deal in relation to the incident last week and will now face trial in Sep - the DNA tests will be required to help the prosecution prepare for the case. As previously reported, Marchand pleaded innocent to all charges shortly after the incident, telling reporters: "The only crime I am guilty of committing is being a young black female celebrity in Broward County. I am the victim of an overzealous police department who engaged in police brutality and a money hungry store owner whose motives are for me to pay his mortgage on his house and his children's tuition".

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RHYMES SETTLES FAN ASSAULT LAWSUIT
More from the hip hop courts, and Busta Rhymes has settled a $100,000 lawsuit with the fan who claimed the rapper and his bodyguard beat him up last year after he approach the hip hop star for an autograph. Melvin Smith won a default judgment against Rhymes because he failed to attend a court hearing regarding the lawsuit. Rhymes, who denies the assault charges, says he missed the court hearing because the paperwork was sent to the home of his estranged ex-girlfriend, because one of his cars is still registered there. While Rhymes admitted he still pays for that property because of legal commitments to the ex, the mother of his three children, he says he is in the middle of a child-custody dispute with her, so she's not exactly forwarding his mail. Despite all that, the rapper has reached an out of court settlement with Smith, which will see the rapper pay an undisclosed sum to the fan to settle the case, presumably without claiming any liability.

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BEN WEISMAN DIES
Ben Weisman, the classically trained pianist who wrote and co-wrote around sixty songs for Elvis Presley, has died at the age of 85. The musician passed away at a long-term care hospital in LA on Sunday from complications incurred by a stroke and pneumonia.

Dubbed 'the mad professor' by Presley, Weisman was involved in the creation of songs such as 'Wooden Heart' and 'Rock-a-Hula Baby' - "Whenever there was a movie coming up they would call him up and say: 'We need one for, uh, the clam dance'", explained Barbara Gleicher, who is married to the pianist's nephew.

Weisman was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and grew up in the Brooklyn district of New York. He studied at the Juilliard School Of Music before beginning a professional career in which he wrote music not just for Elvis, but also for the likes of Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Bobby Vee and The Beatles.

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ELTON JOHN CANCELS WHOLE EUROPEAN TOUR
Elton John's management yesterday announced the singer's entire European Red Piano tour has been cancelled because the tour's promoter "could not guarantee to put the shows on".

In a statement, representatives of the singer said: "We regret to announce that Elton John's European Red Piano shows scheduled for June and July 2007 have been cancelled. The promoter has been unable to guarantee to put on the shows, resulting in us having to take this very difficult decision. We do of course appreciate that Elton's fans will be disappointed at this news, and we are already looking into the possibility of returning to the affected cities in the very near future".

The affected shows were due to take place in Venice, Berlin, Moscow, Paris and Seville. The latter show had originally been due to take place last week but had already been pushed back to the end of the summer for "technical reasons". The exact reasons as to why promoters of the European tour were unable to deliver the shows is unclear, although the Red Piano tour, which is based on John's Las Vegas show, does involve ambitious, complicated sets and multi-media staging.

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THE BRAVERY ON NEW TRACKS
The Bravery's second album 'The Sun And The Moon' was released in the US yesterday, and the band's frontman Sam Endicott has been talking to NME.com about recently previewing tracks from the new long player on their current North American tour.

The singer said: "I was a little scared at first because if you don't recognise the songs you're not gonna jump up and down, so I didn't know how people would react. But the reaction's been really good. I think people get into it because every song is different from every other".

He also admitted that after his band's previous tour, he hadn't expected to enjoy doing it again, but that actually, he's enjoying it. Now that I've paraphrased that, would you like to hear it from the horse's mouth, as it were? Here you go, over to you, Endicott: "For the last album we did 18 straight months of touring and by the end I was like, 'Fuck this'. I never want to do this again. But now we've been off the road for eight months and I was bored out of my mind so I'm glad to be back on tour. It's more fun for us now because the new songs are harder to play and a lot more challenging. And now that the album is coming out, it'll be fun to play it for people who actually know the songs".

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KLAXON/CSS LOVEMATCH
According to NME, Simon out of Klaxons and Lovefoxxx out of CSS have confirmed that they're in love. Euugh. NME can take the credit for all the gooiness, in fact, because the pair apparently got together during their New Rave Tour.

Speaking from Los Angeles, Simon's bandmate Jamie also confirmed the truth, saying: "We've barely seen Simon in days. He's been shacked up with Lovefoxxx since she arrived in LA getting some couple's time in. He's completely smitten. He's even got a Lovefoxxx tattoo".

Meanwhile, CSS's Luiza Sa said: "I think it's crazy and great that they found each other. For me they're like Sid and Nancy or Kurt and Courtney. They're like the same person but in different versions, they have their own world and they're so similar and they get along so well. I think they're going to marry - honest."

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SMASHING PUMPKINS MAKE LIVE RETURN
The Smashing Pumpkins have played their first comeback gig since their farewell show in Chicago back in 2000. Their previously reported and much anticipated live return took place at the Grand Rex in Paris last night, and comprised a three hour set in which the band played tracks from their forthcoming album 'Zeitgeist' as well as some classics such as 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings' and 'Cherub Rock'.

Only frontman Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain remain from the band's original line up, and the new members - a female keyboardist and bassist, and a male guitarist - have not yet been named. Finishing the show, Corgan told the crowd: "Thank you very much for coming to see our first show back. From our hearts god bless you, see you all on the Champs-Elysees."

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BANDS CRASH TICKET SERVERS
Talking of Smashing Pumpkins, demand for tickets for their upcoming eight night residency at the Orange Peel venue in Asheville, North Carolina was so high when they went on sale last weekend, it sent the Ticketweb servers into meltdown. So much so, ticket sales were reportedly put on hold so that more powerful servers could be used.

Which is very similar to what happened when tickets for six new Take That concerts went on sale here in the UK yesterday. The group added the six extra dates, three in Manchester and three in London, because of public demand. Such was that demand that Ticketmaster's website crashed, for the first time in over two years.

All of which presumably means bands will now measure their relative popularity by how many servers they can crash when their tickets go on sale.

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JUSTICE ANNOUNCE EXCLUSIVE SHOW
Justice are to perform an exclusive show for competition winners to mark the release of their latest single 'D.A.N.C.E'. The electro duo will play London's Mean Fiddler on 11 Jun, and fans wishing to be in with a chance of being there need to go to their MySpace page and enter the contest. The lucky ones will be selected on 7 Jun.

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TO MY BOY ALBUM NEWS
To My Boy have announced that their debut album, 'Messages' will be out on 2 Jul, released via Beggars imprint Abeano. It will be preceded by a single, 'Model', on 18 Jun. I know what the tracklisting is, but I'm not going to bother telling you, because I just don't think it'll mean anything to you.

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REM START WORK ON NEW ALBUM
REM are headed to Vancouver to start work on a new album, produced by Jacknife Lee. They'll finish it in Dublin, however, where they're set for that previously reported five night residency at the city's Olympia Theatre - dates they're apparently calling a "working rehearsal" - so presumably they'll be mostly new-tracks-preview events. They take place on 30 Jun, and 1, 3, 4, 5 Jul.

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PRINCE GIGS IN LA
Talking of residencies, Prince is set to announce a seven week one, at Los Angeles' Roosevelt Hotel, according to reports. Well, it's not seven whole weeks, it's apparently a once a week thing, with the two hour gigs taking place each Friday, starting in Jun.

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MIA CANCELS SASQUATCH APPEARANCE
MIA has been forced to cancel her appearance at the Sasquatch festival this weekend, apparently due to visa problems again - you'll remember she had trouble getting over to the US last year when she was due to record with Timbaland.

She's still on the bill for a number of other North American festivals, so time will tell if she manages to appear at those.

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PULL TIGER TAIL TOUR
Pull Tiger Tail have announced a headline tour to coincide with the release of their new single 'Hurricanes', out 18 Jun. Tickets available now for the gigs, taking place on the following dates in the following locations:

8 Jun: London Popstarz @ Scala
11 Jun: Newcastle Academy 2
12 Jun: Glasgow Barfly
13 Jun: Manchester Night & Day
14 Jun: York Fibbers
15 Jun: Leeds Cockpit
17 Jun: Bristol Academy 2
18 Jun: Wolverhampton Little Civic
20 Jun: Southampton Joiners
21 Jun: London Islington Bar Academy

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MORE TAKEOVER NONSENSE
So, lots of commentary in both the UK and US press on the EMI board's previously reported approval of a takeover bid from Terra Firma.

As the major record company's shareholders now consider the board's recommendation to sell to the private equity firm (board members with shares have reportedly committed to sell as part of the deal with Terra Firma), some reckon that other private equity houses who had previously been seemingly unwilling to go above 255p a share may now bid at or above Terra Firma's 265p offer, confirming earlier rumours the EMI board were courting various private equity types to create a bidding war.

Others also reckon that Warner will still win through in the end, by coming in with the highest bid at the end of the day and winning over the majority of the major's shareholders, despite the board recommendation, which would confirm those other earlier rumours, that the EMI board were courting private equity types primarily to force Warner into making a higher merger bid.

Others still reckon Warner will let Terra Firma buy EMI, and then buy it off them, letting the private equity firm go through the hassle of dealing with the plethora of shareholders required to sell. Whether any of these commentary types have any grounds for their idle speculation I don't know, but everyone seems to agree that the EMI ownership story is not, as yet, closed. Time will tell of course.

What the rumours regarding the possible purchase of the Sanctuary Group mean for Warner's current EMI ambitions I don't know, but despite reports that Warner were not among those who have recently expressed an interest in acquiring the struggling cross-sector music group, the Guardian now reports they are considering a bid. Whether that means they've given up on their attempts to acquire EMI, or they are using a Sanctuary bid as a contingency plan, or they think they'll get EC approval for both an EMI and a Sanctuary takeover I don't know.

You might wonder if European regulators would really let Warner takeover both EMI and an independent as large as Sanctuary in the same breath, though the Guardian says another possible Sanctuary bidder is Universal Music, and at the end of the day, if the regulators were willing to allow a Universal takeover of Sanctuary, then there'd be no real reason for blocking an EMI/Warner takeover of Sanctuary.

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EMI US APPOINT NEW DIGITAL CHIEF
Talking of EMI, which we are, a lot, of late, the major has announced that it has appointed one Lauren Berkowitz to the role of Senior Vice President of Digital for EMI Music North America. She will report to Roger Ames, the recently appointed head of EMI in the US, and will work with all of the major's American recorded music divisions on digital type shenanigans, including EMI's recently announced DRM-free ventures. Lucky her.

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RHINO US DOWNSIZES
Talking of Warner, which we are, a lot, of late, the major's Rhino US division has just made fifteen of its staff redundant as part of that previously reported Warner Music wide downsize. Rhino confirmed the cuts to Billboard yesterday.

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IPC WORK WITH INDIE NEWSAGENTS ON NME PROMOTION
NME publisher IPC is launching a sales initiative which will give independently owned newsagents and record shops the chance to stage a gig in their shop at the media group's expense. The offer is part of a bid to get NME priority racking in independent stores around the country. The publisher is also supplying newsagents with disc-shaped 'shelfwobblers', limited edition posters and gold counter display units. Those newsagents who get the biggest sales uplift as part of the promotion will get the gig.

Press Gazette quote NME Publishing Director Paul Cheal thus: "It's essential that young music fans can buy a copy of NME from their local shop every week. Indie music has never been so popular and we're delighted to support independent newsagents who want to capitalise on this".

Of course, if the NME's recent covermount promotion championing 'independent' record labels is anything to go by, the winning newsagent will probably turn out to be owned by Tesco.

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MAIL ON SUNDAY DEFENDS COVERMOUNTS
As you may well have seen, the boss of the Mail On Sunday has hit back at rising opposition to newspaper covermounts by taking an ad in Music Week to put his side of the argument. Opposition to covermounts is rising again, of course, after Mike Oldfield hit out at the Mail On Sunday's recent promotion in which it gave a free copy of his 'Tubular Bells' album to every reader.

As previously reported, the Mail On Sunday gave away copies of the 1973 album last month, tied to editorial about Richard Branson's new book, 'Tubular Bells' being the first album to be released on the original Virgin Records. The paper licenced the CD from EMI, who now own Virgin Records of course, but Oldfield, who will soon move his back catalogue to Universal, has since told reporters no one consulted him about the giveaway, adding that he only found out about it by chance, and that he objected to his music being given away as a newspaper freebie.

Although EMI were not obliged to involve Oldfield in the licensing deal, his public criticism of the promotion has reignited opposition in the artist, management and retail communities to national newspapers giving away free CDs to their readers. It was opposition in those three communities three years ago that saw many record companies, who had previously participated in covermount promotions, backing away from the newspaper partnerships. However, keen to find new revenue streams, some labels have started to participate in covermounts again, with the Mail On Sunday the most proactive newspaper in the covermount space.

Responding to renewed criticism of covermount promotions, the Mail On Sunday took an advert in this week's Music Week, with the paper's MD Stephen Miron arguing that, far from being bad for the music industry, the promotions deliver valuable income and marketing exposure for labels and artists, adding that many labels recognised that fact and were keen to work with his paper. Miron wrote: "We spend more money marketing music acts than any other music company does. A lot of people recognise that we are a different distribution channel. I have never understood why retailers have never come to me and said 'Is there a way we can work with you?' We can draw people in to a retailer on Sunday to go and buy music".

He continued by pledging to continue running covermount promotions, writing: "This isn't going to stop. Their [the record companies] worst fear is that we stop doing it. When we stop doing it, it will have a far worse effect on album sales. We are promoting music. Record companies are desperate to work with us again. They are nervous, but they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them".

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EMAP DENY SCOTTISH RADIO STATION SALE
EMAP have denied that they are planning to sell of their Scottish radio stations, many of which they got as part of their acquisition of Scottish Radio Holdings back in 2005. Some industry commentators claim that since the SRH stations became part of EMAP's Big City Network they have lost their local identities, and lost listeners and advertisers as a result. But Big City Network MD Travis Baxter has told Media Week those rumours are "absolute rubbish".

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MEL C ON SPICE GIRLS REUNION. AGAIN
Mel C's latest words on the matter of the endlessly-speculated-about Spice Girls reunion seem to imply that she's definitely not up for it, despite relatively recently implying that she wouldn't rule it out for a special occasion. Or did I just dream that? Oh, I don't know.

She told some magazine or other: "I don't want to be the spoilsport, no pun intended, but if the other four do it then I think I'll be in a dilemma. I don't want to be the person that stops it from being the complete set, but in my heart of hearts it's not something I want to do".

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TALK ABOUT MICK JAGGER'S PENIS, ANYONE?
Filmmaker Julian Temple has claimed on BBC Radio that Mick Jagger once went through some Amazonian marriage ritual type thing designed to enlarge his manhood. Temple claimed the Rolling Stone was going a bit crazy in South America back in 1981 whilst filming scenes for the movie 'Fitzcarraldo', and agreed to the treatment, in which bees were encouraged to sting the singer's penis.

Temple says: "It involved putting bamboo over the male member and filling it with stinger bees so the member attained the size of the bamboo. Mick spent months in the jungle in Peru. He was going mad out there I think".

Seems a bit extreme. But then former squeeze Janice Dickinson claimed in an interview with J-Ross last week that Jagger has "a very small penis". So perhaps desperate times required desperate measures. Not that I'm saying size matters, or anything. Ahem.

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