CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 11th July
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Too much for one girl to bear: Spector trial update
- Busta Rhymes charges kept separate
- Rapper's son found dead
- Shortlist announced for Canadian Mercury equivalent
- BT Digital Music Awards open
- Sharpton plans tour against 'h' word
- Ryder flouts smoking ban
- Snow Patrol man in court this month
- Another T sell out record
- Pogues guitarist Chevron has cancer
- Lavigne collaborator retracts criticism
- Cure double album later this year
- Panic! to cover 'N Sync?
- Lauryn Hill doesn't redeem herself
- Josh Homme putting off knee surgery
- Kings Of Leon stuff
- White Stripes tour announced
- Spitz announces country fest
- Blondie get in on the musical act
- Natalie Imbruglia dropped by L'Oreal
- AIM staff rejig
- Australian club promoters criticise copyright ruling
- Bug buy Windswept
- The Orchard and Digital Music Group merge
- iPhone Nano in the pipeline? Probably not
- C4 and mobile types launch new unsigned bands competition
- OfCom chief says rapid analogue radio switch off wouldn't be good
- Diddy splits from baby mother
- Henson kicked out of Church's
- Shayne Ward nearly kills midget
- Beckham vows to make fellow Spices as skinny as she is

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TOP BIT >>
So, despite the top line figure that album sales for the first half of 2007 are down 10% on album sales for the first half of 2006, the BPI, or the British Recorded Music Industry, as they now should be known, has found much to be positive about in its spin on the latest UK record industry sales stats. So that's good news.

Taking the albums market first. CD sales may be down, but the UK CD market is still one of the strongest in the world. And CD sales are still up 32% on 1997, even if they are down on last year (though presumably some of us were still buying cassettes in 1997, which will skew the figures a little). Meanwhile the sales of digital albums are up. And while it's not up enough to offset the decline in CD sales, the BPI says those sales to offset about 23% of the CD decline, which is a start - a start which, some industry insiders hope, is a sign that the overall album market can recover eventually.

The big growth sector though, of course, is the singles market which has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the digital age. Single track download sales were up 49.9% year on year in the first half of 2007, and now account for 90.1% of all singles sales in the UK, which is a lot. And as a result the whole singles market - once a loss leader for many record companies - is becoming a profitable revenue stream in its own right.

But all these stats are actually quite hard to interpret in terms of assessing the long term growth or decline of the record industry in the digital age. The singles market is getting stronger because CD singles were never an especially cost effective way of distributing music - the profit margins on single track downloads, while not huge, are better than on the often loss making CD single. So, in theory that's income that can compensate for any decline in album sales. But then one of the reasons the single track download market is growing so much is because digital consumers are buying single tracks off albums rather than buying whole album packages - so as digital becomes the norm single sales are likely to continue to grow, but at the continued detriment of album sales. Economies of scale mean that the profit margins on digital albums are better than on digital singles sales, so the growth of the single download market could, over all, be bad news for the record industry.

All of which means that it is actually quite hard to form any conclusive opinions based on all these stats. And that's before you consider that, as record companies diversify, the record sales stats on which we are used to assessing the success of the record industry become less and less conclusive, because record sales become but one revenue stream, and long term probably not even the principle revenue stream.

Which means all of this tells us very little, really. Still, it's nice to have some good news from time to time, so let's go with the BPI's conclusions, and all have a little celebratory lunch. I'm having soup.

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HOT OFF THE PRESS>>

ROCK SOUND AUGUST ISSUE 99 OUT TODAY
Funeral For A Friend have certainly faced some tough times during their career, this month Matt Davies tells Rock Sound how these experiences "almost drove him mad". We bring you the exclusive story. Also, this month: Velvet Revolver discuss their appetite for destruction, Linkin Park set the record straight and we catch up with Japan's hottest new exports Dir En Grey as they tear up the States. Plus, interviews with Sum 41, Interpol, The Red Chord, Darkest Hour, Bad Religion, Nightwish, Glassjaw, Tom Morello and much, much more. In this month's Exposure section we bring you 22 of the finest new bands you need to hear; and this month's FREE Sound Check CD features 15 fantastic tracks from artists featured in the issue. Plus, two FREE giant posters: Biffy Clyro & Paramore. Bringing you the best new music first - Rock Sound is on sale now at all good magazine stockists.

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MYSPACE OF THE DAY: CIRCUITS

Here's a jolly good new band for you. Circuits. They're actually doing okay (without the help of a label - they're releasing their own material) and sold thousands of copies of a recent single via download and suchlike, have secured the approbation of one Zane Lowe, and have already done two Xfm sessions. Anyway, now's the time to start looking out for these guys because they have a new single 'Young Enough Not To Care', coming out on 14 August, plus their debut album is well on its way to completion. They've got a nice, busy, informative MySpace page, and a few upcoming dates for you to stick in your diary if you fancy checking them out. I've a feeling they're probably pretty good live, and if I weren't somewhat otherwise occupied over the next few weeks, I'd probably try to get along to a gig myself. Anyway, take a look at the page, if nothing else.

http://www.myspace.com/circuitsband

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TOO MUCH FOR ONE GIRL TO BEAR: SPECTOR TRIAL UPDATE
So, the defence in the Phil Spector trial resumed their case yesterday and chose not, as expected, to continue with their forensics case (though more of that is still to come), instead turning their attention to the character of Lana Clarkson, the former actress found dead at the legendary producer's home back in 2003.

While the prosecution have put much effort into portraying Spector as a gun wielding misogynistic loon, the defence are trying to show that Clarkson was a chronically depressed failed actress with suicidal tendencies. They've touched on Clarkson's alleged personality flaws before, but proceeded in that vein full on yesterday by presenting two defence witnesses who claimed to have known the deceased well, both of whom spoke of the former actress's growing despair at her failing career.

First up John Barons, a writer who had hired Clarkson to play the lead in a play he'd written about Marilyn Monroe, but who later fired her because, he says, she was difficult to work with and not that good an actress. In fact, Barons admitted he mainly hired her in the first place because he hoped she'd bring some of her Hollywood friends to see his production. "The passion was more for fame, but she enjoyed acting". Barons observed, admitting that Clarkson had initially been very "eager" and "ready-to-go" when he cast her in his play, but that she became increasingly difficult to work with, and started to demand numerous script changes. The actress was, Barons reckons, unhappy with her lot in life. He told the court: "If you don't make it in this business by the time you're 40, you might as well give up", adding that Clarkson was aware of this fact and had at one point said that if her acting prospects didn't improve soon she "might as well find a bridge".

Next, another writer, David Schapiro, a good friend of Clarkson, who admitted that the actress was increasingly down regarding her career, or lack of it, in the latter months of her life. He reported on emails sent to him by Clarkson in which she discussed her increasing financial problems. Schapiro said that in one email - a correspondence that has already been raised in court - Clarkson wrote: "I am truly at the end of this whole deal. I am going to tidy up my affairs and chuck it, because it is really all too much for one girl to bear anymore".

However, both Baron and Schapiro seemed keen to stress, however, that they never believed Clarkson was actually suicidal. The former said of the 'bridge' remark, "I'm sure she was kidding", while Schapiro said it wasn't unusual for Clarkson to be overly dramatic, and that it wouldn't be out of character for the actress to make such melodramatic remarks without really meaning them. But such talk of "ending it" in the months prior to her death could well give some credence in the mind of the jury to the suicide claims being made by the defence.

If not, then the defence reckon they still have another ace up their sleeve regarding their portrayal of Clarkson as a woman more than capable of shooting herself, though it still remains to be seen if that witness ever makes it to the stand. The defence only announced last week that they planned to call actor and producer Raul Julia Levy, who is expected to testify that Clarkson had a fascination with guns, a serious cocaine problem and had discussed suicide on a number of occasions. Levy's lawyer, John DeHart, says his client was friends with Clarkson for many years and was intimate with her for several years. He adds: "If everybody believes my client like I do, he's going to contribute to reasonable doubt. [So far in this case] you heard the district attorney's truth. Now you're going to hear the real truth".

The prosecution are trying to block Levy from testifying because of his last minute addition to the defence's witness list. This has resulted in yet another spat between the two sides in this case. Judge Larry Paul Fidler has given the prosecution until 18 Jul to research the new witness and to present their case against allowing him to testify.

The case continues.

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BUSTA RHYMES CHARGES KEPT SEPARATE
Well, you can't ever say that Busta Rhymes chap isn't busy. He now has four separate court trials to fit into his diary. Though this is seemingly good news - for him anyway. As previously reported, Rhymes has been doing his best to get on the wrong side of authorities of late - being arrested for allegedly assaulting his personal driver, for driving with a suspended licence, and for beating up a man who allegedly spat on his car. With four sets of charges in hand, prosecutors had asked for them all to be merged into one prosecution, presumably because they thought they'd get a tougher sentence if they merged everything together. But Rhymes' people wanted to keep everything separate, presumably because they think he either has more chance getting off that way, or at least will get more lenient and possibly concurrent sentences. Either way, Judge Larry Stephen yesterday ruled that all the cases against the rapper should be dealt with separately, without giving any reasoning behind that decision. But Rhymes seemed pleased with it, high fiving his attorney as the judge delivered his ruling. The first set of charges will now go to court on 5 Sep.

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RAPPER'S SON FOUND DEAD
The son of veteran hip-hopper KRS-One, aka Kris Parker/The Blastmaster, has been found dead in his Atlanta apartment, the victim of an apparent suicide. Randy Hubbard Parker, aged 23, died from a gunshot wound to the head, according to a report by the Medical Examiner's Office in Fulton County, Georgia. His mother, Simone G Parker, released a statement this week explaining that her son, a graphic designer and fashion entrepreneur, had been suffering from long term depression at the time of his death.

A private funeral will be held on 18 Jul, with a memorial service in New York planned for August.

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SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED FOR CANADIAN MERCURY EQUIVALENT
The nominees have been announced for this year's Polaris Music Prize, something of a Canadian equivalent to the our Mercury Music Prize, which was launched last year.

Ten Canadian albums are on the shortlist, which has been voted for by almost 200 Canadian music journalists and experts, who were asked to select albums from native artists which are "of the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history". An overall winner will now be announced on 24 Sep, and will receive a CAN$20,000 prize.

The nominees are as follows:

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
The Dears - Gang of Losers
Julie Doiron - Woke Myself Up
Feist - The Reminder
Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
Miracle Fortress - Five Roses
Joel Plaskett Emergency - Ashtray Rock
Chan Van Gaalen - Skelliconnection
Patrick Watson - Close to Paradise

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BT DIGITAL MUSIC AWARDS OPEN
More awards, and the BT Digital Music Awards will be held on 2 Oct this year, at the Camden Roundhouse. The awards show which, this here press release says, "recognises and rewards cutting-edge digital music entertainment", will be screened by Channel 4. Anyone wanting to win an award has to enter - the deadline for entries is 31 Jul. Judges will then select shortlists on which punters will be able to vote from late August.

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SHARPTON PLANS TOUR AGAINST 'H' WORD
Campaigner Reverend Al Sharpton and his National Action Network has announced they will stage a twenty city tour of the US to protest about the use of the word "ho" in popular culture, which apparently all the hos out there find offensive. This is all part of the recently invigorated campaign to remove racist and sexist language from hip hop, which, as previously reported, all began when the decidedly un-hip hop Don Imus got in trouble for calling a team of mainly black female basketball players "nappy-headed hos".

Talking to Allhiphop.com about the latest campaign, Sharpton said: "First of all, the ones that are being attacked are Black people. We are being called niggers and women, who they call hos and bitches ... we're reacting to an attack ... they exploit our pain, they're not expressing our pain". Sharpton and his fellow protestors will focus their protests on large media organisations who broadcast content containing the offending words.

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RYDER FLOUTS SMOKING BAN
Happy Mondays man Shaun Ryder is in trouble for smoking at a recent gig at The Ritz in Manchester. According to reports, Ryder repeatedly flouted the new smoking laws, which came in on 1 Jul, of course, lighting cigarette after cigarette at the Saturday night event. It's thought that the frontman's actions also encouraged members of the audience to follow suit.

Pat Karney from Manchester City Council says: "The Ritz will get a visit from environmental health straight away. No matter how big he thinks he is, he is not above the law. There will be no breaches of this law in Manchester."

The venue's manager, Stuart Green, insists that his staff enforced the ban, and that The Ritz welcomed the new no-smoking legislation.

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SNOW PATROL MAN IN COURT THIS MONTH
Snow Patrol's Tom Simpson will appear in court later this month to answer those previously reported drugs charges - as you'll remember, it was a failure to appear in court over these charges that almost put paid to his appearance at T In The Park at the weekend. He's accused, along with his friend Colin Kennedy, of being found in possession of cocaine on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow on 24 Jun last year. Both men have been ordered to attend a hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court on 31 Jul.

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ANOTHER T SELL OUT RECORD
No surprise here really. Those previously reported 40,000 early bird tickets for next year's T In The Park have sold out within 65 minutes, which beats last year's record, when 35,000 tickets were sold in seventy minutes.

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POGUES GUITARIST CHEVRON HAS CANCER
Pogues guitarist Philip Chevron has cancer, and has pulled out of the band's upcoming US tour as a result.

The band have released a statement which reads: "For the first time since they reunited in December 2001, the Pogues are one man down. Guitarist Philip Chevron, who wrote the band's emigration classic 'Thousands Are Sailing', will not be present for the band's shows in summer and fall, 2007. At the beginning of June Philip was unexpectedly diagnosed with a strand of "locally advanced" throat cancer which requires immediate medical attention. This decision to suspend his live work has the complete support of the other Pogues who wish him a good and complete recovery. Though it is not yet known when Chevron will return to live work, it is hoped that he will again be available towards the end of this year".

The band are also due to play a number of European festival dates this summer, ahead of the American dates, planned for the autumn. They headline Celtic Roots 2007 at Beacon Park, Lichfield, on 9 Sep.

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LAVIGNE COLLABORATOR RETRACTS CRITICISM
A Canadian singer/songwriter who recently slagged off Avril Lavigne's songwriting skills has retracted her criticisms. Chantal Kreviazuk, who shares management with Lavigne, and who has collaborated with her, discussed her collaborator's songwriting skills, or lack of, in a recent edition of a magazine called Performing Songwriter. Last week Lavigne hit back via her blog, saying: "Chantal's comments are damaging to my reputation and a clear defamation of my character and I am considering taking legal action".

But Kreviazuk has now backtracked completely, issuing a statement this week that reads: "I would like to apologize for any misconceptions concerning Avril Lavigne, which may have resulted from statements I made in my interview with Performing Songwriter Magazine. My statements and any inference from my statements, which call into question Avril's ethics or ability as a respected and acclaimed songwriter should be disregarded and are retracted. Avril is an accomplished songwriter and it has been my privilege to work with her".

Avril's songwriting abilities have been in the news this last week, of course, because The Rubinoos songwriter Tommy Dunbar has accused her of stealing chunks of a song he wrote back in the seventies for her recent hit 'Girlfriend', allegations Lavigne strongly denies.

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CURE DOUBLE ALBUM LATER THIS YEAR
Robert Smith has announced that The Cure's thirteenth studio LP will be a double album, and that we can expect to see it released come October. Speaking about the yet-to-be-titled record, he told Billboard: "I'm making this record because I want to enjoy the process and be proud of the finished result. It isn't a commercial concern for me. What will probably happen is that a double album will come out like a limited edition, mixed by me. A single-disc version, which I assume will be primarily chosen by the label, might get mixed by someone else in order to have a different thing".

On the difficulties involved in releasing a double album, he continued: "There's a concern Cure fans will feel like they have to get both, but the fact is, I've agreed to sell the double version at a single album price, because I feel that strongly about it. It is almost impossible to get a double album nowadays. I naively thought my standing as an artist would push aside all objections, but the world gets ever more commercial as it turns".

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PANIC! TO COVER 'N SYNC?
Rumour suggests that Panic! At The Disco are planning a cover of 'N Sync's 'Space Cowboy', a collaboration that will feature Travis McCoy from Gym Class Heroes. It's apparently part of a compilation album featuring a variety of classic pop covers performed by the likes of Taking Back Sunday and Cute Is What We Aim For.

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LAURYN HILL DOESN'T REDEEM HERSELF
Oh dear. It would seem that Lauryn Hill hasn't improved on her reportedly rubbish recent live sets in time for her UK dates. Gigwise quote a number of fans as saying that the Fugees star gave yet another lacklustre performance in Birmingham on Monday after turning up on stage two hours late, after some gig-goers had already left.

One fan said: "I went to Birmingham gig last night, sat for 3 hours, no support band no nothing, left at 10.20. She is so far up her own arse she probably thinks it's 40 quid each well spent".

Another one said this: "After being over two hours late, Lauryn came on stage looking like a clown, singing in an incredible aggressive manner and looking as though she were absolutely wasted, her eyes rolling... such a shame that such a talented individual is at such a low point".

A third fan is quoted thus: "I witnessed and experienced a first last night - the complete and utter demise of a personal hero and the worst gig of my life. Not only did the woman not grace the stage until 10.30 - the venue to close at 11.00 - providing the good value of about £5 per 5 minutes of music! But she looked like a cracked out, mad old bag lady that you make considerable efforts to cross the street to avoid. We are trying to get our money back for this complete and utter farce".

Oh dear.

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JOSH HOMME PUTTING OFF KNEE SURGERY
Josh Homme has said that he needs an operation on his knee - which won't come as a surprise to those who saw him limping and walking with a stick at Oxegen and T at the weekend - but that he won't go and get it done until he's completed all of his band's upcoming live dates.

The Queens Of The Stone Age frontman told Stereo Warning: "It's [the knee] messed up bad. It hurts. I gotta go home and have surgery again. On stage it hurts a lot. I have at least 3-4 moments a set where it feels like boulders underwater, when they hit each other. It's the only way I can describe it. But what do I do, go home? I gotta finish what I started. Everyone cancels all the time for hurting their finger and stuff like that, that's not me".

The band are currently on tour in Europe, with US dates set to begin later this month.

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KINGS OF LEON STUFF
Kings Of Leon missed a TV appearance this week after a recording of The Album Chart Show at Koko was pulled when the venue was struck by lightning. They were forced to cancel their appearance, but other acts due to record that day - the likes of Rufus Wainwright and The Enemy - were able to go ahead with filming later in the evening once power was restored to the venue.

Elsewhere in Kings Of Leon news, drummer Nathan Followill's recent engagement to long term girlfriend Jessie Baylin hasn't gone down so well with the rest of the band - in particular, with his brother, the group's frontman, Caleb Followill. The singer said of his brother's marriage plans: "If he doesn't get a pre-nuptual agreement, he's an idiot. Me and him have a lot invested in each other, we started this band. We bought land and houses together. We've been best friends since we were little biddy boys. I don't want him to make mistakes. We have friends in bands who are married and their songs start being watered down because they're all about the same girl".

Nathan responds: "Look at Bono - he's been married his whole career. It's different for me than it is for Caleb, I'm pushing thirty. It's always hard when big brother starts devoting time to a girl that would normally be devoted to little brother".

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WHITE STRIPES TOUR ANNOUNCED
White Stripes have confirmed dates for their upcoming UK tour in support of new album 'Icky Thump', released last month. Tickets go on sale from midday on Friday, here are the dates:

24 Oct: Glasgow SECC
25 Oct: Manchester MEN Arena
26 Oct: Newcastle Metro Arena
28 Oct: Birmingham NEC
29 Oct: Cardiff International Arena
31 Oct: Sheffield Hallam Arena
1 Nov: Nottingham Arena
2 Nov: London O2 Arena

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SPITZ ANNOUNCES COUNTRY FEST
The Spitz has announced that it's to hold a nine show festival of country music this August, featuring the likes of Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Vetiver and Piney Gir.

Sadly, as previously reported, it won't be long before The Spitz is forced to shut its doors - but not before their folk festival in September. To find out how you can help The Spitz find a new venue, and for more information on upcoming events, see http://www.spitz.co.uk.

Here's the August line-up of quality country-related acts:

3 Aug: DM Bob's The Watzloves
15 Aug: Loose Country night featuring Stephanie Dosen, Jill Barber + Emily Barker
17 Aug: Piney Gir Roadshow
18 Aug: David "Honeyboy" Edwards
20 Aug: Vetiver
23 Aug: The Rosinators
24 Aug: Kitty, Daisy & Lewis
30 Aug: The Storys
31 Aug: Pete Molinari + Alan Tyler

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BLONDIE GET IN ON THE MUSICAL ACT
Well, it's not Blondie: The Musical, but it's almost as bad. According to reports, Blondie tracks, including the likes of 'Heart Of Glass' and 'The Tide Is High' are to be used in a new West End musical based on eighties Madonna vehicle 'Desperately Seeking Susan'.

Deborah Harry is apparently a fan of the film, and I'm a bit disappointed in her, actually, because I thought the film was completely pointless and badly acted. But what do I know? It's good to keep filling the West End with recycled film and TV rubbish, because then people go and see it and it looks less like theatre is dying. Anyway, here's what Ms Harry says of the new musical: "It really is fun. It's fast moving and a really good show."

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NATALIE IMBRUGLIA DROPPED BY L'OREAL
Natalie Imbruglia has been dropped by L'Oreal as one of their 'Because I'm Worth It' spokesmodels. She says, "Apparently I'm not worth it anymore. [The slogan] is so funny. Saying it is ridiculous. You really have to get in character. I had to say it in so many languages".

I suspect she's no longer worth it because she's not really as famous as she used to be. Which is a lesson to all you nobodies out there. Go on, hate yourself. If you're not famous, you're not worth anything.

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AIM STAFF REJIG
The Association Of Independent Music has announced it has created a new General Manager role, and that current Project Manager Remi Harris will be promoted to the role. In her new role Harris will report to AIM chief Ailson Wenham, and will manage the day to day running of the trade body. Other AIM staffers, Ellie Mules and Lara Baker, have also been promoted to new roles - Member Services Manager and Marketing & Communications Manager respectively.

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AUSTRALIAN CLUB PROMOTERS CRITICISE COPYRIGHT RULING
While the web radio sector in the US fights a music royalty increase set by the country's Copyright Royalty Board which some smaller webcasters claim will put them out of business, in Australia it is club promoters who say they may have to close their doors after a ruling by the Copyright Tribunal there.

The Tribunal has been considering what fees club and party promoters should pay the Phonographic Performance Company Of Australia, which represents the royalty interests of the record labels and artists. Royalty fees for clubs where recorded music is played is based on capacity, with promoters being charged between seven and twenty cents per clubber in the past, depending on the kind of event and venue.

However, the record industry in Australia has argued that those rates are far too small, and have been pushing for an increase through the courts, who ultimately set royalty rates if licensees and licensors of music cannot agree on a rate. That campaign proved successful yesterday when the Tribunal ruled that royalty rates should rise to between AUS$1.05 and AUS$3.07, again depending on the kind of event and venue.

The decision has, needless to say, been welcomed by the music industry and artist community. The Sydney Morning Herald quote former Go-Betweens drummer Lindy Morrison as being "elated" by the decision, with her adding that recording artists had for too long been "subsidising" the profitable clubbing sector, whose business is wholly based on those artists' music.

But those in the clubbing and venue business said the decision could prove disastrous. The co-founder of a company called Fuzzy, who promote dance parties Field Day and Good Vibrations, said they'd have to add the extra AUS$3 onto the ticket price of their events, adding: "Nightclubs and dance parties compete against various other types of entertainment, so this fee makes them less competitive".

Meanwhile Bill Healey of the Australian Hotels Association, many of whose members run club venues, said: "The reality is we only have limited resources and we were primarily fighting an organisation underpinned by the four major record companies - Sony BMG, EMI, Universal and Warner. What will happen is that a large number of venues that operate as nightclubs just won't be able to sustain themselves because they have to pay a rate on the basis of the capacity".

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BUG BUY WINDSWEPT
Publishing company Bug Music has acquired Windswept Holdings, another independent music publishing house. Windswept is expected to continue to operate under its own name, although their offices in LA, New York and Nashville may well be streamlined.

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THE ORCHARD AND DIGITAL MUSIC GROUP MERGE
Independent digital music aggregator The Orchard has announced plans to merge with one of its competitors, the Digital Music Group. According to the New York Times the combined company will continue to trade publicly under the Digital Music Group's existing Nasdaq listing, but will be controlled and 60% owned by The Orchard, which is in turn owned by Dimensional Associates, the private equity arm of JDS Capital Management. While the combined operation will be listed as Digital Music Group it will trade under The Orchard name.

Both The Orchard and Digital Music Group represent a wide range of independent content owners in the digital space, licensing their aggregated catalogue to all kinds of digital music services. Unlike The Orchard, the Digital Music Group controls the online rights to some classic TV shows as well as music, and also owns some content outright. The merger will, therefore, enable The Orchard to branch into new areas, as well as giving them the ability to raise money in the public markets.

Confirming the deal, The Times quote The Orchard boss Greg Scholl as saying: "This company has been uniquely designed entirely around the exploitation of digital music rights. We'll have more songs for sale so we'll be a bigger partner for the retailers we supply and we'll have more leverage in the market".

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IPHONE NANO IN THE PIPELINE? PROBABLY NOT
A JP Morgan analyst called Kevin Chang has said he reckons Apple will launch an iPhone nano in the US before the end of the year, ie a cheaper iPhone in the way the iPod nano is a cheaper iPod. That opinion seems to be based on patent applications made by Apple and other information from suppliers. But don't get too excited about that, another US based analyst called Bill Shope, says otherwise. Digital Music News quote him thus: "We believe a near-term launch would be unusual and highly risky. It took Apple over two years to launch its first low-end iPod [after releasing the main model]".

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C4 AND MOBILE TYPES LAUNCH NEW UNSIGNED BANDS COMPETITION
Sony Ericsson and Orange have announced details of yet another battle of the bands type initiative - this one will search for new music talent as part of a Channel 4 TV show. Bands selected through an online stage of the competition will get to play at a special music festival and on a special tour where they will have to win over both fans and judges for a place in the overall final. Look, here's what C4's Music And Youth chap Neil McCallum says: "We want to unearth the freshest new band in Britain and then bring them success. mobileAct unsigned will get under the skin of what really makes the British music scene tick - the thousands of unsigned bands that slog their guts out week in week out to reach the top".

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OFCOM CHIEF SAYS RAPID ANALOGUE RADIO SWITCH OFF WOULDN'T BE GOOD
Ed Richards of media regulator OfCom has cautioned against a too rapid switch off of analogue radio broadcasts in favour of digital. And quite right too. Here's what he told the Radio Festival event: "a swift, forced march to analogue switch-off in radio today would not be in the interests of listeners or the industry itself". Though, that said, he admitted that having to broadcast on both analogue and digital at the same time was an extra cost for radio companies, and that the industry should therefore work together to enable a switch off sooner rather than later - but when audiences and the radio market is properly ready. The industry needed to work together, he said, to "identify the key issues that are raised by a transition from analogue to digital".

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DIDDY SPLITS FROM BABY MOTHER
Sean Diddy doo daddy Combs has announced that he's split from his girlfriend Kim Porter, just months after she gave birth to their twin baby girls D'Lila Star and Jessie James. Er, and that's it really.

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HENSON KICKED OUT OF CHURCH'S
According to the Daily Mail, Charlotte Church has kicked fiancé Gavin Henson out of their shared home because she got wind that he'd been kissing shop worker Tracy Donelly. At a club.

A 'source' told the paper: "Gavin is gutted that he got caught out, but Charlotte isn't listening to any of his excuses. She is very angry at the moment and, when she found out, she flew into a rage." Not surprised. Especially when she's probably feeling dead fat and knocked up. No judgements implied there, I feel exactly the same. Fat and knocked up, that is, not in a rage because Gavin Henson's been drunkenly snogging birds in clubs.

Charlotte's mum is also said to be a bit pissed off: "Maria has been yelling down the phone at him," the source added, "she is very, very protective of her daughter, so understandably she is livid. She is disappointed in Gavin. She thought that he was a lovely boy but she now knows that she is wrong. She is devastated for Charlotte".

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SHAYNE WARD NEARLY KILLS MIDGET
Well, apparently this is true. God knows why former X-Factor winner Shayne Ward was required to throw a Mexican midget wrestler into a swimming pool for a video shoot, but apparently he was. Sounds as though this promo is full of artistic merit.

Anyway, Ward accidentally picked up the wrong midget, one who had his mouth covered by a face mask which meant he could barely breathe in the water, and therefore might have drowned, if Shayne hadn't rectified the mistake by leaping into the pool to get the wrong midget out.

An 'insider' is quoted as saying: "Shayne was obviously really embarrassed by what happened - luckily his 'victim' thought it was hilarious, and they all ended up having a right laugh about it".

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BECKHAM VOWS TO MAKE FELLOW SPICES AS SKINNY AS SHE IS
According to reports, Victoria Beckham wants to put her fellow Spice Girls on the same skinny-making regime as herself in time for their upcoming tour. Which seems like a shame, because Posh looks like a skeleton at death's door, whilst the rest of the gang look healthy, happy and normal the way they are. Let's hope her plan doesn't work.

Anyway, a 'source' told New magazine: "Victoria has told the girls her secret to staying trim is 200 sit-ups a day and a diet of edamame beans, strawberries and lettuce. She is the most apprehensive of all the girls about getting back together because her image in America is so important to her".

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