CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 6th June
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Warner sign up to new iPod compatible DRM free download service
- EC extend deadline for response to iTunes concerns
- The Game could face five years over basketball incident
- Akon in trouble again over gig video
- This is the gun: Spector trial update
- Wilco defend decision to license their music to VW
- Har Mar TV star
- Patrick Wolf on new material
- Kylie tracks leaked
- Blur to hit studio in November, possibly
- Macca's Starbucks sales won't count in the chart
- Happy Mondays tour
- New festival at Woburn Abbey
- Frog croaks
- CD-Wow looking into appeal through European courts
- Live Nation sign up Tiscali as Wireless partners
- EMI win a Big Tick for their foundation
- Virgin Radio lock in senior execs ahead of sale
- Blue boy in Chicago next month
- Manson disses MCR
- Monkey loves the girls

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TOP BIT>>
So, this new Lala.com service is very interesting, if a little bit confusing. As you'll see from our lead story today, this is a new digital music service and DRM-free download platform which has launched proper in the US this week, and which is interesting on a number of levels.

Firstly, at the core of the new service will be an on demand full track music jukebox, allowing users to listen to any tracks in the Lala.com catalogue in full whenever they want without paying a subscription and, it seems, without having to watch or listen to any ads. Offering across the board free on demand streams will prove expensive for the new company, because they will have to pay the labels a per-listen royalty, and you might question why, in this broadband age, anyone would use the pay-per-track download bit of Lala.com's service when they can listen to songs whenever they want for free via the jukebox bit. Or, perhaps, why they won't just use Lala.com for the free streams, but continue to buy their downloads elsewhere (especially as the Lala.com download platform will only sell albums, not single tracks). But the new service's bosses seem convinced that, while many people will just use the free bit of the service, enough people will use the download bit, eventually, to make the whole thing viable long term - ie, if the free jukebox enables them to steal a significant portion of the download market - from market dominant iTunes presumably - then the cost of the free service will be covered.

They hope to take on iTunes by making their download platform iPod compatible. Actually, more than that, there are indications that the service will only work with iPod, which is the second interesting bit. It seems that the download bit of Lala.com will look to transfer music directly to portable devices, rather than via a user's PC, a technicality which means that while the downloads they sell are DRM-free it will actually be quite hard for users to share them via P2P because they will be locked into the user's digital music player. That is to say they will use aspects of iPod technology that limit the distribution of even DRM-free tracks stored on the player.

It will be interesting to see exactly how the 'direct to player downloads' work, how easy it will be to sidestep the system and get the DRM-free tracks onto your PC and, perhaps most interesting, what Apple make of the offer. The venture doesn't seem to be Apple approved, and while arguably the IT firm should support new services which further the iPod's dominance of the digital player market, they might not support a company that is obviously looking to take on iTunes. If Lala.com is reliant on Apple based technology on the iPod that controls the distribution of tracks stored on the player, then Apple could easily change that technology just to piss their new competitors off. It is not clear if Lala.com have protection against such a thing happening, or whether they may end up in the same situation as Real Networks' Harmony system, which aims to make any music file compatible with any music player, but which has to constantly adapt because Apple keep changing their systems in a bid to stop Harmony working with the iPod.

The final interesting thing about Lala.com is that Warner Music seems to be the new venture's main record label partner, even though they are seemingly offering a DRM-free download service. Warner are, of course, big fans of DRM and have so far resisted calls to follow EMI and offer DRM-free music via iTunes, so why they are signing up to this service I don't know, unless they are satisfied the 'direct to player' system ensures DRM style limitations without DRM. One hopes there hasn't been any confusion over the specifics of the service like there was with the previously reported Anywhere CD platform set up by MP3.com founder Michael Robertson, which bundles MP3 downloads in with physical CD sales and which announced a partnership with Warner on launch, only for Warner to back away from the service when they realised Robertson's new venture essentially amounted to a DRM free download platform.

Anyhow, whether Lala.com will prove as revolutionary in the digital music world as its founders and financial backers seem to think remains to be seen but, like I say, it is undeniably interesting.

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MYSPACE OF THE DAY: KILL KENADA

Kill Kenada are a punky, indie band from Bognor. I never knew people actually came from Bognor. I thought they just went there on holiday, or to die. So it's nice to think that young, vibrant, talented types might hail from there. Of course, I've made a bit of a fool of myself there, for thinking that no-one of note ever came out of Bognor, because I just looked it up on Wikipedia and it turns out that baldy Olympic swimmer Duncan Goodhew is from a village three miles away. Anyway, I'm so off the point here that I might as well actually be in Bognor (God forbid) so I'd better move on to Kill Kenada, who are actually really, really good, despite coming from a town placed 28 on The Idler's crap towns list of 2004 (thanks, Wiki). Plus, Zane Lowe loves them, apparently, as do various elements of the music press, and what's more, they appear on 'Your Honor' by Regina Spektor, whom I doth love. Anyway, the reason we mention them at this juncture is that they have a number of upcoming live appearances for you to check out, one of which is at band show case night Wreck12 at Punk in Soho at the end of the month - get ye along, Londoners for Kill Kenada and then some.

http://www.myspace.com/killkenada

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WARNER SIGN UP TO NEW IPOD COMPATIBLE DRM FREE DOWNLOAD SERVICE
A new US based digital music service entered the market yesterday offering unlimited free online streams and, possibly, DRM-free music from Warner Music, a major that until now has been something of an advocate of the use of digital rights management technology to protect its music.

The new service is called Lala.com, and has been set up by Bill Nguyen, the founder of mobile technologies firm Seven Network Inc, and is backed by Bain Capital and Ignition Corp. The service will enable users to listen to full track streams of music on demand free of charge without adverts, the logic being that the free jukebox service will encourage users to buy downloads of the songs they preview. Lala.com will sell downloads in a yet to be confirmed iPod compatible DRM-free format, although, unlike most existing download platforms, it will not sell individual tracks, but full album downloads, which will sell for between $9 and $12.50.

Nguyen admits that the cost of providing the free streams, which it will have to licence from the record companies, will be significant, telling Reuters he anticipates losing $40 million in the next two years, but he believes that in the long term that investment will be recouped through download sales, even though he expects the majority of users to use the free service without actually buying any music. He told Reuters: "We expect up to 70 percent of people will be freeloaders just listening to the music but around 30 percent will be buying music". That 30%, he reckons, will be enough to make the business viable.

There will also be a social networking and peer recommendations aspect to the new service - plus users will be able to upload their own existing non-DRMed digital music collection up to the new venture's servers and listen back to it through the Lala.com jukebox service (which is quite clever, because it means that the large gaps in the new venture's jukebox catalogue at launch are overcome by allowing users to integrate their existing digital record collections into the service - for personal use only, obviously).

Warner Music are the first major record company to actually sign up to Lala.com's stream and download service, with their artists populating much of the jukebox site at the moment. This is possibly big news given that the website says it will sell downloads in a DRM-free format, and Warner have so far resisted such formats. However, it seems the Lala.com service will be set up to download tracks directly to an iPod, rather than initially to a user's computer, therefore reducing the risks of that unprotected music file being shared online, which is possibly why Warner have agreed to get involved.

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EC EXTEND DEADLINE FOR RESPONSE TO ITUNES CONCERNS
The European Commission has extended the deadline for Apple and the major record companies to respond to charges it made back in April regarding concerns relating to iTunes pricing across Europe. The deadline for responses was originally Monday just gone, but the IT firms and majors now have until 20 Jun to respond.

As previously reported, the chaps at the Commission have objected to the way that consumers can only use the iTunes service based in their own country - ie, the Apple download platform controls which country's version you can use based on your billing address. This is especially irritating for us here in the UK, because the price-per-download here is 79 pence whereas on mainland Europe the per-track price is 99 eurocents, around about 67 pence. The EC, and numerous European consumer rights groups, argue that we UK customers should be able to use mainland Europe versions of iTunes in order to secure the more favourable price, and the fact the Apple service stops them from doing so is anti-competitive.

As also previously reported, when the EC first formally issued its charges against Apple and the record companies, the former immediately responded with a public statement stressing that it was licensing restrictions on the part of the majors that forced them to limit access to geographical variations of their iTunes service. The majors are yet to publicly respond, but will have to respond through official channels before 20 Jun.

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THE GAME COULD FACE FIVE YEARS OVER BASKETBALL INCIDENT
Well, when The Game told reporters last week he was "taking a break" from hip hop, I'm not sure if he meant a five year break, but apparently that's how long he may be locked up for if found guilty of charges he is facing relating to that previously reported incident during a basketball game in LA back in February.

As you'll remember, The Game, real name Jayceon Taylor, was arrested last month over allegations that he pulled a gun while taking part in a basketball game in LA earlier in the year. Police claim the rapper firstly punched a player on the opposing team, then took a gun out of his car and threatened to shoot him. Quite what the other player had done to cause such a reaction I'm not sure - hummed a 50 Cent tune, perhaps. But anyway, the hip hop star has now been charged with making a criminal threat and possessing a firearm in a 'school zone' (the basketball court was next to a school, I think), both of which are rather serious and could result in five years plus in prison. Taylor is yet to comment on the charges, although at the time of his arrest last month told reporters: "I want to say that I'm not guilty".

Taylor is due in court next week to face unrelated charges stemming from that also previously reported incident last year when he allegedly impersonated an police officer and ordered a cab driver to run red lights.

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AKON IN TROUBLE AGAIN OVER GIG VIDEO
Damn this age of video recording mobiles and YouTube - once there was a glorious time where if an R&B star wanted to dance provocatively with an underage fan of the opposite sex, or throw another fan of the same sex into his audience, they could do so without the eyes of the world judging them. The dancing and fan throwing could remain a secret between them and their audience. But not now. Damn modern technology.

It's Akon who is in trouble again after a video of one of his gigs appeared online. You'll remember that phone firm Verizon recently ended its sponsorship of the Gwen Stefani tour he was guesting on after a video of him dancing provocatively with an underage female fan appeared online. Well, the latest video seems to show the R&B star lift up one of his fans and throw him into the crowd. The incident happened at a music festival staged by US radio station K104 last weekend, and seemingly occurred after a fan threw something at the singer as he performed. Said fan was seemingly then pulled out of the crowd, manhandled by Akon on stage, before being chucked back into the crowd.

It's not a sponsor who is expressing concern at the latest video, but the local police. That said, it's not entirely clear if this incident was essentially assault on Akon's part or, rather, a bit of fun that ended up in what was a slightly dramatic stage dive. That is to say it's not entirely clear if the fan in question was playing along with Akon, or whether he was essentially attacked by the singer. Reports suggest local police are now eager to speak to the fan in question to ascertain exactly what happened, and may as yet question Akon himself. Though other reports say that two local police officers were moonlighting as security guards at the event and were on the stage at the time of the incident, and that neither of them made any efforts to stop Akon, which either suggests [a] it was all a bit of fun or [b] they are pretty incompetent policemen. Either's possible, I suspect.

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THIS IS THE GUN: SPECTOR TRIAL UPDATE
An LA cop yesterday described the crime scene that he and his colleagues found when called to Phil Spector's mansion back in 2003 after the death of actress Lana Clarkson, as the legendary producer's high profile murder trial continued.

Detective Mark Lillienfeld firstly presented the court room with the gun that killed Clarkson, still covered in dried blood. The Colt Cobra revolver was not registered and never definitively linked to Spector, but Lillienfeld said that a holster that fit the gun was in an open drawer of a desk in the room where Clarkson died. The revolver wasn't the only gun in Spector's home. Lillienfeld testified that officers also found two fully loaded blue steel handguns, an unloaded 12-gauge pump shotgun and lots of other ammunition, much of it the same as the type that was in the gun that killed Clarkson.

Lillienfeld added that there was a briefcase belonging to Spector near Clarkson which contained some over-the-counter medications and some tinfoil with one Viagra pill and empty spaces for two more. There was also a DVD player in the room which had the old black-and-white film 'Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye' in it.

Quite how all this information is relevant to the case I'm not sure, except that it confirms Spector's previously known obsession with guns. Lillienfeld did also confirm, through testimony and photo evidence, that Clarkson had a bag on her shoulder at the time she was shot. That was something coroner Louis Pena referenced last week as being a sign that Clarkson had not committed suicide.

The case continues.

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WILCO DEFEND DECISION TO LICENSE THEIR MUSIC TO VW
American rockers Wilco have defended their decision to allow car makers Volkswagen to use some of their songs in their commercials, after some of the band's fans accused them of selling out by licensing tracks to the car firm. The band say that they see allowing songs to appear on ads as a useful way of getting their music to a new audience. Their statement on the matter, posted on their official website, runs thus:

"As many of you are aware, Volkswagen has recently begun running a series of TV commercials featuring Wilco music. Why? This is a subject we've discussed internally many times over the years regarding movies, TV shows and even the odd advertisement. With the commercial radio airplay route getting more difficult for many bands (including Wilco); we see this as another way to get the music out there. As with most of the above (with the debatable exception of radio) the band gets paid for this. And we feel okay about VWs. Several of us even drive them.

If you're keeping track, this is not the first time Wilco has licensed a song to or even been involved in a commercial - most recently a TV spot for Telefonica Mobile in Spain used a Wilco song and some years prior Jeff Tweedy appeared in a campaign for Apple Computer. Wilco have licensed hundreds of songs to television shows and films worldwide... from festival-only indie films to major motion pictures and weekly TV shows.

Thus far the songs in the VW campaign are 'The Thanks I Get' (a bonus track from Sky Blue Sky sessions, available for download via the Enhanced CD and via iTunes) and 'You Are My Face'. We expect to have more details re: other songs shortly. The current plan (subject to change, like everything) is for 5 or 6 songs to be used.

That's it. Don't believe everything you read unless you read it here".

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HAR MAR TV STAR
According to reports, Har Mar Superstar, aka Sean Na Na, real name Sean Tillman, is working on his own TV shows. The musician told NME.com: "I've been working on creating a couple of different TV shows over here. I can't really say what because they're still in development. One is like a sitcom based on Har Mar and that's pretty much all I can say so far. The other is kind of a reality show but not really... I can't really talk about it because it's such an awesome idea that if someone takes it before we do I'll be really mad".

Tillmann has also just released a new Sean Na Na album, 'Family Trees: Or CoPe We Must', in the US. He says of that project, which has been inactive since 2000 or so: "Sean Na Na is a band. I write all the songs and sing, and there's five of us onstage. We tend to get rowdy and drunk but I don't make out with as many girls when I play. That's the major difference".

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PATRICK WOLF ON NEW MATERIAL
Patrick Wolf has been speaking about the new material that he's working on for a new album, which he expects to release in the spring of 2008. The singer-songwriter says that it's got a strong political element, inspired by his experiences on tour in the US recently.

Wolf told NME.com: "I'm writing my fourth record right now and I just finished all the demos...it's quite a political record and a lot to do with my reaction to America during my recent tour. It's also about my general disappointment in the apathy of the people in the world. So I want to get it out as soon as possible to sort of help things a little bit".

He continued: "I never thought I would write politically. I really would say I don't know that much about politics. I'd always rather focus on things that made me very happy and inspired. But I'm starting to feel like there are no Joni Mitchells in our generation. There are no Bob Dylans. There's no one speaking about things in an articulate, artistic human way. I kind of feel it's my duty. I'm not gonna start being a politician because I don't know much about politics. But I know how it feels to be living as a human being with all our governments fighting each other and killing people. This album will be communicating that through music and words".

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KYLIE TRACKS LEAKED
Tracks from the new Kylie Minogue album have apparently been leaked online and are available via a number of file-sharing sites that I wouldn't know how to use, of course, because I don't file share, so I'm not able to verify this. Reports suggest that songs bearing titles such as 'Stars', 'Fall For You' and 'Sensitised', are out there, however, although it's thought that these songs may not actually make the final cut. Some sources claim that it's a marketing ploy by the singer's label to publicise the new LP, due out at the end of the year, but a Kylie spokesman dismissed that allegation, saying: "There would be no point songs being leaked on to the net this far ahead of the release.".

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BLUR TO HIT STUDIO IN NOVEMBER, POSSIBLY
You know how Alex James says that Graham Coxon has agreed to go back into the studio with his old band Blur? Well, The Mirror says that it's going to happen in November. The tabloid quotes a source as explaining: "They've all had lots on with solo projects, cartoon bands and farming. But by the end of summer, their plates will be clear. They'll go into the studio in November".

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MACCA'S STARBUCKS SALES WON'T COUNT IN THE CHART
Wonderers are wondering what impact his Starbucks relationship will have on Paul McCartney's chart position this weekend. As previously reported, Macca is releasing his new album, 'Memory Almost Full', via Starbucks' music offshoot Hear Music. As part of that relationship the album is being sold via all 533 Starbucks stores in the UK as well as conventional record stores, which is good for boosting overall sales, but not chart position, because the Starbucks coffee shops don't chart return. The album is still expected to chart from conventional sales, but any purchases via the coffee chain won't be included in the long player's chart rating, which means it may score a lower rating overall than it really should. But, on the upside, the album is due to enter at number three in this weeks coffee charts, just ahead of Double Espresso, but behind Latte and the eternal chart topper, the cappuccino.

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HAPPY MONDAYS TOUR
Happy Mondays have announced a new series of tour dates. The band, who quickly sold out their summer dates, will be supported by The Sunshine Underground when they take to the road again in the autumn. Dates are as follows:

27 Sep: Nottingham Rock City
28 Sep: Glasgow Carling Academy
1 Oct: Sheffield Octagon
2 Oct: Newcastle Carling Academy
3 Oct: Bristol Carling Academy
5 Oct: Oxford Zodiac
6 Oct: Brixton Carling Academy
8 Oct: Norwich Uea
9 Oct: Southampton Guildhall
10 Oct: Leeds University
12 Oct: Birmingham Carling Academy
13 Oct: Liverpool Carling Academy

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NEW FESTIVAL AT WOBURN ABBEY
A new festival is set to take place at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire this summer, and features the likes of Van Morrison, Hayley Westenra, Julian Lloyd-Webber and The Ronnie Scott's Big Band on its line-up. Woburn Live will consist of three themed evenings on 27, 28 and 29 Jul, respectively devoted to rock, classical music and jazz. The event has a broadcast partnership with Classic FM, meaning highlights from the classical and jazz programmes will be aired nationwide.

Andrew Wyke, of co-promoters Musical Associates, says: "This new event offers a unique experience both on site and for listeners to the national broadcasts. The lawns to the rear of the Abbey will be transformed into a fully seated concert arena providing an intimate setting in which to enjoy performances by some of the world's best artists. The Abbey and grounds will make a superb backdrop for concert goers to picnic before the performance and soak up an inspiring atmosphere".

Tickets ranging in price from £20 - £45 are on sale now, info and booking here: http://www.woburnlive.com, press info from Velocity Communications.

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FROG CROAKS
London rock club Frog is to close. The indie night at Mean Fiddler, which has in the past hosted performances from the likes of Babyshambles, Klaxons, Kaiser Chiefs and CSS will cease to be at the end of the month, with one final shout on 30 Jun featuring Kid Harpoon. Promoters are promising a replacement of some kind - "a new form of forward thinking party" - in the autumn.

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CD-WOW LOOKING INTO APPEAL THROUGH EUROPEAN COURTS
No surprise here then, but the owners of online retailer CD-Wow, who were last week ordered to pay the UK record industry £41 million in compensation for illegally selling CDs sourced from outside the EU to UK customers, have vowed to fight the ruling, taking the case to the European Courts. If they can.

CD-Wow co-founder Henrick Wesslen has told reporters: "We are outraged by the judgment. We will fight this all the way to the European courts even if it takes another three years to win justice. There will be no let up on our part and CD-Wow will continue to trade now and in the future. We make tiny margins on our goods and it is the consumer who benefits not the big high street stores who rip off their customers by adding massive margins".

Wesslen again criticised the EU copyright laws that stop retailers from sourcing CDs from non-EU distributors, but again stressed that, despite a court judgment that said his company had been in "widespread breach" of those laws, that CD-Wow had, in fact, been following the rules. He said: "The current copyright laws are mad, but that doesn't mean we don't stick to them. We have always acted transparently and where we have been pulled up on a small number of unintentional instances we are big enough to hold our hands up. The fact is though, it shouldn't matter whether we are buying from an official distributor in the UK, Europe or the Far East, what is important is that we are buying legitimate products from the record companies themselves. Isn't it time we focused on a combined effort to stop the pirating that is hurting all of us?"

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LIVE NATION SIGN UP TISCALI AS WIRELESS PARTNERS
Live Nation have announced Tiscali have been appointed 'official internet partner' for the upcoming Wireless festivals in London and Leeds. They web company will webcast acts from the main stage at the London branch of the festival via a bespoke microsite on their music channel. I think they will basically be repurposing the content Live Nation film for existing partners O2 and Channel 4, though don't quote me on that.

Confirming the partnership, Live Nation Creative Partnership Director Michael Philippides told CMU: "To have Tiscali on board as our official internet partner, makes the 02 Wireless Festival an even more exciting proposition for our consumers. Tiscali will provide a great service, not only appreciated by the music loving public, but also by the artists appearing. Our partnership with Tiscali will go a long way to ensure artist performances are available in any manner the fans chose to access, way beyond the boundaries of Hyde Park".

Tiscali Online Media Director Alex Hole added: "We are delighted to be sponsoring the 02 Wireless Festival. Having proved that both our live and edited production is of the highest quality, we are looking forward to working with such an excellent line-up to ensure that these fantastic performances are able to be viewed during and long after the festival has finished".

Tiscali have webcast sets from the Reading Festival, produced by the Live Nation owned Mean Fiddler, for the last two years.

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EMI WIN A BIG TICK FOR THEIR FOUNDATION
EMI have won a 'Big Tick' award, whatever that is, for its ten years of support for the EMI Music Sound Foundation, the UK based charity which aims to improve young people's access to music education. The Big Tick has been presented at a thing called the Business In Community Awards which recognises companies who have had a positive impact on the workplace, environment or community.

Commenting on the award, EMI big cheese Eric Nicoli told reporters: "The work of the EMI Music Sound Foundation has been instrumental in putting music back onto the education agenda, and has supported more than 1000 students and teachers to develop their involvement in music through direct grants and bursaries, as well as making substantial grants to schools. Music education is a cause that EMI and many of its employees and artists are passionate supporters of, and this award is a fitting tribute to the first ten years of the Foundation's work".

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VIRGIN RADIO LOCK IN SENIOR EXECS AHEAD OF SALE
The Scottish Media Group has entered into agreements with senior players at Virgin Radio that include financial incentives designed to make them stay with the company until the end of the year, which is important for SMG just now because they are, of course, in the process of selling the national radio station (either in a private sale or through flotation) and want to convince possible investors that an experienced management team is in place, and won't quit during or immediately after a sale. The move follows rumours that at least one of the Virgin Radio management team was considering following the station's former chief Fru Hazlitt over to rivals GCap. Execs who have reportedly entered into lock in agreements include CEO Paul Jackson, Audience Development Director David Andrews, Sales Director Nick Hewat and Finance Director MJ Olare. Rumour has it the Virgin Group may be considering buying the radio station back although UTV, who attempted an ultimately unsuccessful merger with SMG, may also make a bid.

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BLUE BOY IN CHICAGO NEXT MONTH
Not the city, the show. This is the news that former Blue star Duncan James is set to take over the role of Billy Flynn in the West End musical Chicago as of 2 Jul. The singer, whose career recently received a boost from his appearance on ITV's Dancing On Ice, will take over from Maxwell Caulfield for a period of seven weeks.

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MANSON DISSES MCR
Marilyn Manson's in the news a lot at the moment for saying stuff. I guess it's because he has an album to promote. Anyway, this time the singer's had a go at My Chemical Romance for copying him. The goth rocker told The London Paper that the song 'Mutilation Is The Most Sincere Form Of Flattery', from his new album 'Eat Me, Drink Me' - which features the incisive lyrics "fuck you, fuck you" - is all about MCR. He explains: "I'm embarrassed to be me because these people are doing a really sad, pitiful, shallow version of what I've done. If they want to identify with me then here's a razor blade. Call me when you're done and we'll talk".

Yeah, yeah. Whatever.

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MONKEY LOVES THE GIRLS
Arctic Monkey Alex Turner says he loves Beyonce Knowles and is very impressed by the new Sugababe Amelle Berrabah. The singer says of the former Destiny's Child singer: "I've always been a fan of Beyonce. I love her. She's got a bit up there, I reckon".

He went on to tell Q Magazine his thoughts on the aforementioned Sugababe. "I quite like the newest one", he said "Very impressed. In that Comic Relief song, the Run-DMC thing, she raised the bar in that".

He's too scared to talk to the girls, however. He went on to admit: "We met them a couple of times but never chatted. We're dead shy".

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