CMU Daily - on the inside Thursday 12th July
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- SonyBMG sue over dodgy DRM debacle
- Warner hire expert to consider last minute EMI options
- West and Knievel aim to solve legal dispute out of court
- Opera star Hadley on life support
- Friends fund Wilson's cancer treatment
- She was very, very, very, very depressed: Spector trial update
- Max B released from prison
- Ronson to remix Dylan
- Truck fest compilation CD
- George Michael's extended encore costs £130k
- Latitude sells out
- Live Earth US ratings disappointing too
- Towers Of London dates
- Gym Class Heroes, single, dates
- Publishers want to work closer with other industry sectors
- Songwriters back CISAC's European licensing proposals, media coalition doesn't
- EMI launch JV label with management firm
- GCap boss on decision to axe Xfm daytime DJs
- GCap chief on EMAP merger, not
- Abramsky says licence fee deal leaves BBC radio with a "huge challenge"
- Karen O's a cryer
- Illness puts no dent in Kylie's earnings
- Winehouse's dad says his daughter is happy
- Usher plans to wed before baby comes
- More about Police stars not getting on
- James Blunt sold his sister

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TOP BIT >>
One of the themes at the AGM of the Music Publishers Association this week has been the need for the various sectors of the music business to work more closely together, and while we mock the concept slightly in our report below (what is it with us and the mocking?), actually we couldn't agree more.

I've never known an industry to have quite so many different trade organisations as the music industry - and it never ceases to amaze me that despite doing this CMU Daily every day for the last five years I still occasionally stumble across new trade bodies I've never heard of - like the European Composer And Songwriter Alliance which appears in today's Daily, for example.

All these bodies exist because there are so many people involved in writing, composing, recording, performing, producing, publishing, releasing, distributing, selling, manufacturing and licensing music, and in booking, promoting and managing musicians. And they all have slightly different interests and agendas. And often fall out with each other. All of which means that they need their own representative organisations. And then another organisation to represent them at a European level. And then another to represent them at a global level. And then another to represent those that feel any organisation dominated by big commercial organisations, or certain genre biased companies, can't represent their interests.

But while the music industry probably has more representatives than any other, it often lacks that one big representative that can more generally talk up for the people who make, distribute or invest in music - whether that be a musical score, a musical recording or a musical event. And that, I do believe, is to the wider industry's detriment. Of course if you create such a cross-sector body - and in the Music Industries Forum attempts have been made in the past - you are adding just one more trade body into the mix. And some would argue, possibly quite convincingly, that there are such fundamental disagreements between different music industry sectors that any cross-industry body could have no policies, because any one policy would be opposed by at least one sector.

But I still can't help thinking some kind of central organisation that acts as a window on the wider industry, where politicians, journalists, entrepreneurs, investors and aspiring artists, producers and songwriters can go as a starting point whenever they have a question or proposal would be a great help for the industry at large. Especially as individual music companies diversify, and find themselves competing with whole new kinds of competitors in the entertainment, technology and telecommunications spaces. As it is most people with generic enquiries seem to start with the BPI, or one of the collecting societies (I know I do), but quite often they are clearly not the right people to deal with those questions or proposals.

But whatever - in the meantime, any enhanced collaboration between all these industry organisation, and music industry sectors, is to be encouraged. Which I think was my point at the start of all this!

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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: PARKA

I've been loving Parka for a while now, but have been prompted to get them in the MSOTD slot today because I just got an email telling me that they are playing the Hoxton Bar & Grill on 17 Jul and that any press types should get in touch with Holly at LD Communications for review tickets. If I'm being honest, the Hoxton Bar & Grill is one of my least favourite venues in London, but I might make an exception for these guys because they make such uplifting music that I reckon I'll have a good time, despite being surrounded by the pushy rude types you tend to end up standing next to at Hoxton Square venues. And I suppose it makes sense to hear their great track 'Hoxton Hair' at the home of the look the track, erm, pays tribute to. That song, and three other great tracks, are here on the MySpace, as are a load of other gig dates, in case you're a Hoxton-hater unwilling to make an exception for these guys. And it you hate the thought of going to any gig venue at all, then there's a video clip of them performing 'Disco Dancer' at the London Garage, so you can see them live from the comfort of your own PC. Hurrah.

http://www.myspace.com/parkamusic

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SONYBMG SUE OVER DODGY DRM DEBACLE
Ah, this old story again. SonyBMG is suing two companies who together supplied one of those controversial copy-protection software systems the major record company installed onto numerous North American CD releases in 2005 in a bid to stop its customers from making copies of music they'd bought.

Amergence Technologies, formerly SunnComm International, and its partner MediaMax, supplied one of two DRM systems employed by SonyBMG which led to consumer outrage after it was revealed that the technology employed could pose security risks to the PCs the CDs were played on. Although another DRM system, the so called 'rootkit' system designed by British company First4Internet, initially got more media attention, the flawed SunnComm DRM grabbed the headlines when a 'patch' designed to fix the security risk, distributed by SonyBMG, was found to make the problem worse.

As much previously reported, aside from the PR damage to SonyBMG caused by the whole debacle, the major faced a number of class action lawsuits in the US and Canada from customers affected by the CDs. It is in a bid to recoup some of those compensation payments that the major is now suing the technology companies behind the flawed DRM. SonyBMG say the DRM they bought was defective and falsely advertised, and that their agreement with MediaMax required the software seller to indemnify them against the kind of fallout that followed their use of the technology.

However, those technology companies say it was the way SonyBMG employed the DRM technology, rather than the technology itself, that caused the problems. In a statement, Amergence told reporters this week that the problem was "Sony's under-tested release of a competitor's technology and BMG's 'final authority' input in determining the functional specifications of the MediaMax copy protection".

Interestingly SunnComm isn't the only company involved in all this to have changed its name. The aforementioned First4Internet registered its new name, Fortium Technologies, with Companies House at the end of last year. Given just how big a fuck up, and story, the rootkit debacle was, personally I'm surprised both are still in business.

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WARNER HIRE EXPERT TO CONSIDER LAST MINUTE EMI OPTIONS
Talking of long running stories, back to this one now. The Daily Telegraph has reported that Warner Music has hired Wall Street banker Alan Mnuchin of AGM Partners to assess the possibility of a last minute bid for London based EMI.

As much previously reported, Warner is one of a number of parties who have expressed an interest in acquiring their rival record company, and with EMI's board open to offers have had access to the UK major's books in a bid to assess the commercial viability of a merger. However since then, of course, the EMI board have given their backing to a takeover offer by European private equity outfit Terra Firma, who have made an offer to the company's shareholders in a bid to gain complete control of the music firm.

Nevertheless, many in the city still expect a counter-offer from Warner, and many feel that large institutional shareholders in EMI are holding off reaching a deal with Terra Firma hoping a Warner offer will be forthcoming, and will kick off a bidding war. Mnuchin is expected to work with Warner's principal advisors, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, in a bid to make a final decision as to whether or not to bid at this stage.

Terra Firma are now expected to extend the deadline for EMI shareholders to accept their 265p per share offer to 26 Jul. Of course, this is not the first time Terra Firma, who still only have agreements in place to gain 3.5% of the company, have extended that deadline, though some insiders say it could be the last.

Even if the Terra Firma deal was to fall through, insiders say the EMI board remains unlikely to back a Warner offer, partly because of concerns over the costly challenge of securing approval from EC competition officials for the merger, and partly because a Warner takeover would certainly result in certain key members of the EMI management team being replaced. That said, city experts say that if Warner were to go up to 300p a share in its offer it would be hard for the EMI board to refuse.

Some still reckon Warner would rather the Terra Firma deal go ahead, enabling it to mount a new takeover bid with just one seller in the near future. Though Mnuchin's appointment suggests Warner bosses are yet to make a decision one way or the other.

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WEST AND KNIEVEL AIM TO SOLVE LEGAL DISPUTE OUT OF COURT
Kanye West has told the US courts that he is hoping to settle his previously reported legal dispute with Evel Knievel out of court. As previously reported, the former daredevil bloke sued the rapper at the end of last year, claiming his trademark and likeness were infringed when West included a daredevil routine in the music video to 'Touch The Sky', in which West is dressed as, yep, you guessed it, 'Evel Kanyevel'. West's legal people say the video is a satire and therefore covered by the First Amendment, meaning they didn't need Knievel's permission to use his image. But both sides have now agreed to independent mediation in the dispute, meaning the spat shouldn't need to go to court. West and Knievel will share the costs of the mediation.

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OPERA STAR HADLEY ON LIFE SUPPORT
American operatic tenor Jerry Hadley is on a life support following an apparent suicide attempt. The 55 year old singer, who has appeared on Grammy and Emmy award winning recordings as well as taking lead roles in the likes of Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio and Leonard Bernstein's Candide, is thought to have been struggling recently with both his career and finances, and was arrested last year on a DUI charge, although prosecutors later dropped the case.

According to New York State Police, the singer shot himself with an air rifle at his home near Poughkeepsie and was found unconscious on the floor of his bedroom by state troopers. He is in a critical condition due to severe brain injury, and medical staff are to evaluate his condition today to determine whether or not he should be left on life support.

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FRIENDS FUND WILSON'S CANCER TREATMENT
Friends of Anthony Wilson have started a fund to help pay for a £3,500 a month kidney treatment that the NHS have refused to fund. As previously reported, the Factory Records man is suffering from cancer and had one of his kidneys removed back in January, but this and chemotherapy failed to beat the disease, and it's the next option, the drug Sutent, which doctors have recommended, but which his local healthcare service is unwilling to provide.

Now the likes of members of the Happy Mondays and others Wilson has supported during his career have contributed to the fund to provide the entrepreneur with the drug, which has been known to double the life expectancy of those who are prescribed it. Wilson himself says he believes the treatment is working.

He said: "This is my only real option. It is not a cure but can hold the cancer back, so I will probably be on it until I die. When they said I would have to pay £3,500 for the drugs each month, I thought where am I going to find the money? I'm the one person in this industry who famously has never made any money. I used to say some people make money and some make history - which is very funny until you find you can't afford to keep yourself alive. I've never paid for private healthcare because I'm a socialist. Now I find you can get tummy tucks and cosmetic surgery on the NHS but not the drugs I need to stay alive. It is a scandal".

The fund was set up by former Happy Mondays manager Nathan McGough and their present manager Elliot Rashman. So far enough money for five months of the treatment has been raised.

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SHE WAS VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY DEPRESSED: SPECTOR TRIAL UPDATE
So, you've been wondering, whatever happened to Sara Caplan, the former Phil Spector defence attorney who said she saw forensics expert Henry Lee remove a piece of potential evidence from the legendary producer's Beverly Hills home, but who then refused to formally testify about said claims putting herself in contempt of court? As you'll remember, Caplan claimed she couldn't formally testify about the claims because of attorney/client confidentiality rules. But Judge Larry Paul Fidler disagreed, not least because by making the claims in the courtroom in the first place (albeit sans jury) Caplan gave up any confidentiality rights, if there were any to start with, which Fidler doesn't think there were. The last we knew Fidler had held Caplan in contempt of court and was threatening to jail her unless she agreed to testify. Caplan was appealing Fidler's ruling on the matter.

Well, things have now moved forward, and not in Caplan's favour. The California Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear her appeal against the contempt order, which means the lawyer now really is facing jail if she continues to refuse to testify. Some reports say she may be jailed as soon as today. She is due to meet Fidler at 10am today, East Coast time, where a decision will be made. It's all a big distraction, of course, from the real issue the court is considering, whether or not Spector shot dead actress Lana Clarkson at his home in 2003, or whether she committed suicide. And the prosecution have been seemingly pursuing the case against Caplan mainly to discredit Lee, who's expected to back up other forensic experts who claim the forensic evidence of the case suggests Spector did not shoot Clarkson. But now it seems that Lee might not even testify - he being increasingly concerned that his association with this case is tarnishing his reputation, even though he strongly denies ever taking any evidence away from the crime scene.

Whatever - back to the real case in hand, and the defence continued with its efforts to show that Clarkson was very depressed in the months leading up to her death at Spector's home, making her, Spector's people want the jury to believe, prone to turning a gun on herself. Yesterday they called Jennifer Hayes-Riedl, a friend of Clarkson, who told the court about what had happened when the aspiring actress had taken on a hostess job at the House Of Blues club where she later met Spector.

"She was pulling out chairs for people she had beaten out in auditions", Hayes-Riedl said of the hostess job her friend had been forced to take to make ends meet. It was a job that "humiliated" Clarkson driving her "out of her mind and depressed". So much so, that when Clarkson had come over to Hayes-Riedl's house to borrow some clothes for the new job she had "cried her eyes out". To add insult to injury, Clarkson had broken up with a man who she had hoped would be "the one". Hayes-Riedl concluded by saying her friend had been drinking excessively, and that she had been taking the painkiller Vicodin while drinking tequila or champagne.

All of which kind of fits in with the defence's claims about Clarkson's state of mind at the time of her death. Under cross-examination from the prosecution, Hayes-Riedl admitted that Clarkson was a hopeful and ambitious person, determined to succeed, all characteristics that might suggest that, despite the depression, the actress would not be the suicidal type. But, the witness added: "It was game-face hope. That's different than long-term hope. She was very, very, very, very depressed".

The case continues.

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MAX B RELEASED FROM PRISON
Rapper Max B has been released from prison, after serving almost eight months for conspiracy charges relating to an armed robbery in Fort Lee, New Jersey, back in September 2006. The hip hopper, real name Charles Wingate, a member of Harlem based collective The Diplomats, in recent years signed up to a two album Asylum Records deal via fellow former Diplomat and Warner A&R star Jim Jones.

Jim Jones was on hand to greet his colleague on his release from prison, and the pair went on to a recording studio to celebrate with other associates. It's not known what the terms of Wingate's release were.

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RONSON TO REMIX DYLAN
According to reports, Mark Ronson is set to remix a Bob Dylan track - 'Most Likely Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)' - for that previously reported upcoming three CD career retrospective, 'Dylan'. The new track will be premiered on radio on 1 Aug.

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TRUCK FEST COMPILATION CD
The Truck Festival are to celebrate their tenth birthday by releasing a special compilation CD - 'This Is Truck' - featuring tracks contributed by some of the artists appearing at this year's event. The album will be available on site at the festival, which takes place, of course, from 21 - 22 Jul at Hill Farm near Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Here is the tracklisting, press info from Cannonball PR.

Hamilton vs Hamilton - Up On Hill Farm
Idlewild - You And I Are Both Away
Electric Soft Parade - If That's The Case, Then I Don't Know
Emma Pollock - Glorious Day
Pull Tiger Tail - Mr Hundred Percent
Brian Jonestown Massacre - Wisdom
Goldrush - Can't Give Up The Ghost
Piney Gir - Lucky Me
Euros Childs - Ali Day
Hopewell - Monolith
Outl4w - Blame Nation
The Winchell Riots - A Thousand Figurines Of You
Grand Drive - Birdsong
Gabriel Minnkin - Instore Heartache
The Tamborines - Come Together
Sam Isaac - Sticker, Star And Tape
Andy Yorke - Simple
Garth & Maud Hudson - It Makes No Difference
Winnebago Deal - Monster Trucks

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GEORGE MICHAEL'S EXTENDED ENCORE COSTS £130K
Promoters of that recent George Michael concert at the recently rebuilt Wembley Stadium were reportedly fined £130,000 because the show overran by 13 minutes.

Michael played the first ever concert at the relaunched venue of course, but he extended his encore at the last minute meaning the show was not over by the agreed time. A number of newspapers have reported that that has led to management at the stadium enacting a clause in their venue hire agreement which allows them to fine promoters for overrunning shows.

They quote a source as saying: "Wembley has strict rules that gigs must finish at an agreed time or face a £10,000 fine for each minute they continue. George slipped two extra songs into his set and racked up a huge bill. He was enjoying himself so much he didn't care".

A Wembley spokesperson told reporters yesterday: "Wembley can issue fines for concerts that overrun, but that's between Wembley and the concert promoters".

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LATITUDE SELLS OUT
That there Latitude Festival, you know, the fun one that combines music, comedy and literature, has sold out. All 20,000 tickets for the event, that kicks off in Suffolk later today, are now sold. Mean Fiddler chief and Latitude creator Melvin Benn said yesterday: "To sell out all 20,000 tickets in only our second year is a great testament to everyone involved in Latitude. I am so pleased we have given this fantastic, groundbreaking festival the legs it deserves not only for this year, but for many years to come".

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LIVE EARTH US RATINGS DISAPPOINTING TOO
Seems that US viewing figures for Al Gore's Live Earth extravaganza weren't brilliant either. As previously reported, UK ratings for the global warming awareness builder were 3.1 million, compared to 11.4 million for the Concert For Diana event the previous weekend. The three hour US telecast of the event on NBC, featuring highlights from the various Live Earth gigs, and featuring The Police, Bon Jovi, Madonna and Kanye West, averaged just 2.7 million, putting NBC in last place out of the four major TV networks. Rival ABC scored higher ratings with a repeat screening of the film Monsters Inc and an edition of America's Funniest Home Videos. Though, to be fair, that's a great film. And those home videos are hilarious.

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TOWERS OF LONDON DATES
Towers Of London have announced a series of tour dates. And they are as follows:

16 Jul: Newcastle Academy 2
17 Jul: Glasgow Garage
18 Jul: Aberdeen Moshulu
19 Jul: Inverness Ironworks
21 Jul: Tamworth Palace
22 Jul: Liverpool Academy 2
23 Jul: Leeds Rio's
24 Jul: Norwich Waterfront
25 Jul: Leicester Charlotte
26 Jul: London Electric Ballroom

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GYM CLASS HEROES, SINGLE, DATES
Gym Class Heroes have announced that they'll release a new single, 'Clothes Off' on 20 Aug, and will be preceding that will a series of UK headline dates, in addition to their upcoming appearances at the Reading and Leeds festivals. Here are those upcoming dates:

17 Jul: Birmingham Academy 2
18 Jul: Edinburgh Studio 24
19 Jul: Manchester Academy 2
20 Jul: London Forum

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PUBLISHERS WANT TO WORK CLOSER WITH OTHER INDUSTRY SECTORS
The UK music publishing industry should do more to work with other sectors of the music industry, and especially the record industry. Personally that sounds like no fun to me, who wants to report on industry sectors working in collaboration for mutual commercial and creative gain, when you could be reporting on pointless royalty disputes between major record and publishing companies which are owned by the same people? That's much more fun.

But Paul Curran of the UK's Music Publishers Association, who has just be re-elected to his fourth term in the Chairman position, was keen for more cross-sector partnerships when he spoke at this organisation's AGM in London yesterday. According to Billboard, Curran told his members that all rights holders should join forces to protect their works in the somewhat unpredictable, often unmonitorable digital age. Curran: "Now that audio-visual exploitation is emerging online at a rapid rate, it raises new questions about blanket licensing in this new environment and about the synchronisation rights in user-generated content on [YouTube and MySpace]".

The Association's CEO, Stephen Navin, added: "Consumers think that music is somehow free. So while we've seen the year-on-year decline of the recording industry, we've seen the rise of user-generated content. We need to find ways to synchronise those rights. I have become more and more convinced of the necessity of the closer co-operation between publishers, users, the public and the government".

All of this, Curran and Nevin say, requires more collaboration between music industry associations and collecting societies. Confirming he was now having regular meetings with MCPS-PRS and UK record industry trade body BPI, Curran added: "Having our informal meetings helps us explain to all concerned how the record companies are thinking. Through partnerships, we can make a difference. Otherwise, users [of music] will continue to play us off against each other as they have done in the past".

That sentiment was shared by Emma Pike, the outgoing CEO of the mysterious organisation that is British Music Rights (still haven't worked out what they do, other than not return phone calls, but it's something to do with publishing royalties). She criticised the much previously reported recommendation of the government's Gowers Review on intellectual property with regard to the recorded music copyright, which Gowers said shouldn't be increased from its current fifty years. Although that copyright term doesn't directly affect those in the publishing sector, Pike said that publishers should support the recording rights owners in their bid to win a term. (Such support isn't entirely selfless - one of the record industry's reasons for increasing the term is the imbalance between recording and publishing copyright terms. The extent of the imbalance is unfair, though perhaps the solution to that is to decrease the publishing term, not increase the recordings one. The good news for the publishing sector is that that's not a solution that has been much discussed in the media or political circles, but an increase in the recording copyright term is sure to provide better security for their own royalty period in the long term).

Pike's criticism of the Gowers Review wasn't restricted to recordings though, as she pointed out that some of the other proposals in the report propose "sweeping exemptions for sampling, parodying and caricature" which, she argues, would undermine publishers' revenues also.

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SONGWRITERS BACK CISAC'S EUROPEAN LICENSING PROPOSALS, MEDIA COALITION DOESN'T
Talking of publishing, the association which represents composers and songwriters across Europe, The European Composer and Songwriter Alliance, has given its backing to proposals by CISAC, the global body representing composers, songwriters, publishers and their collecting societies, which has been drafted in a bid to satisfy the European Commission that the publishing sector in Europe isn't just a cartel of territorial monopolies. ECSA spokesman David Ferguson, who's also chair of the British Academy Of Composers & Songwriters, said this week: "The advantage of these commitments is that they promise to bring significant benefits to commercial users of music in a way that preserves the value of our music and our choice of collecting society".

But key media and internet companies aren't convinced that CISAC's proposition will satisfy either their or the EC's concerns, arguing that actually they'll make things worse. A coalition of those companies who have been considering the CISAC proposal have written in a letter to the EC: "[CISAC's plans] would undermine the current system of licensing the global music repertoire as a single package...which would result in regional and national linguistic repertoires either not being played or paid".

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EMI LAUNCH JV LABEL WITH MANAGEMENT FIRM
EMI US has entered into a joint venture with management firm Union Entertainment Group which will see the launch of a new label, Audionest, to be led by UEG and distributed by EMI's Caroline Distribution. The first artists signed to the label are rock bands Cinder Road and The Black Summer Crush.

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GCAP BOSS ON DECISION TO AXE XFM DAYTIME DJS
Now, you there, you who said that Xfm only replaced their daytime presenters with an automated request show to save cash, will you please stop doing that? Otherwise we might axe you and replace you with automated readers. Look, here's the real reason for the change, explained by GCap Group Operations Director Steve Orchard at this week's Radio Festival bash: "We realised over time that more and more stations were playing music on our core playlist. We weren't distinctive. The Xfm audience know more about the music than the DJs do. For the 19 year old, the daytime DJ is not as important as the daytime DJ thinks he is". Said 19 year old is also a lot cheaper, of course. But that is just a coincidence. You've got that, right?

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GCAP CHIEF ON EMAP MERGER, NOT
More from GCap execs at the Radio Festival, and the radio firm's CEO Ralph Bernard has said he did once discuss the possibility of merging his company with the radio division of rival EMAP, but "only for 30 seconds". According to the Guardian, Bernard told the industry event: "I was amazed at the speculation about us and EMAP. It seems to have come from a 30-second chat with [EMAP chief] Tom Moloney several months ago. We did say at one point 'this is the sort of thing we should talk about'. But literally we were walking out [of a restaurant] in Charlotte Street, he went one way, I went the other, and then he left". That conversation is, of course, even less relevant now given that Moloney left EMAP back in May.

That said, Bernard, like most of his equivalents in other radio firms, is keen for further changes in radio ownership laws to allow further consolidation in the industry. He continued: "It is bonkers that you can have a big organisation like ITV consolidating in the way that it has, but commercial radio groups scattered around the country are forced to stay apart because of the way the structure was set up in the first place. We need to have a way of reducing costs and putting the money behind the microphone so we can compete with our principal competitor, the BBC."

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ABRAMSKY SAYS LICENCE FEE DEAL LEAVES BBC RADIO WITH A "HUGE CHALLENGE"
Talking of the Beeb, the BBC's radio and music chief Jenny Abramsky has said that there is a "huge challenge" ahead because the government has forced a lower than ideal licence fee on the Corporation.

She said that she needed to cut BBC radio expenditure by 15%, on top of 15% savings already made, and that that was going to be "very tough". She was also speaking at the aforementioned Radio Festival, and according to the Guardian she said: "We have taken 15% out [of our budget] over the last three years and we are probably going to have to take out a similar amount over the next few years. That is going to be a huge challenge across the BBC and we are going to have some very tough decisions to make. The Today programme and the kind of thing that Jeremy [Vine] does requires real investment. Taking that kind of money out will have an impact".

Of course the whole BBC is chronically overstaffed, and wastes money left, right and centre - to anyone outside the Corporation it would be bleedin obvious where to make the cuts. But it will require job cuts, so you can see why those on the inside aren't looking forward to tackling that challenge.

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KAREN O'S A CRYER
Yeah Yeah Yeahs star Karen O has admitted that the tears she shed in the video promo for 'Maps' were real ones. The singer was upset during the 2003 shoot because her then boyfriend, Liars frontman Angus Andrew, had been supposed to be there, and wasn't. She says: "They were real tears. My boyfriend at the time was supposed to come to the shoot - he was three hours late and I was just about to leave for tour. I didn't think he was even going to come and this was the song that was written for him. He eventually showed up and I got myself in a real emotional state".

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ILLNESS PUTS NO DENT IN KYLIE'S EARNINGS
According to reports, Kylie Minogue's earnings almost doubled during the year she withdrew from public life due to suffering from breast cancer. The singer apparently made £4.5million in 2005. A 'financial expert' is quoted as saying: "It is testimony to her amazing popularity that her finances remained in such good shape despite the well-publicised problems with her health".

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WINEHOUSE'S DAD SAYS HIS DAUGHTER IS HAPPY
Amy Winehouse's Dad Mitch says that reports that his daughter's marriage aint going so well is absolute rubbish, apparently. Mr Winehouse is quoted by IMDB.com as saying that the pair are happy and in love: "[Blake is] the perfect son-in-law. Blake is a traditional man," he says. "He asked me one night if I would mind if he asked Amy to marry him. I told him I didn't mind at all and to go for it. I liked him for what he did. It showed respect towards me and Amy. He's been very good to her and I was happy to welcome him into the family. Amy loves him and that's what's important. I've never seen her as happy as she is at the moment. All this stuff about her and Blake arguing and not getting on is a load of rubbish".

So there you go. Dad has spoken. So stop all your speculating.

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USHER PLANS TO WED BEFORE BABY COMES
Usher is planning to get married dead quick so his new baby will be 'legitimate'. As previously reported, the R&B star became engaged in March to soon-to-be-a-mum-again girlfriend Tameka Foster, and now, say reports, a wedding is planned for the end of this month in the Hamptons in New York state. Foster is already the mother to three children by ex-hubby Ryan Glover.

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MORE ABOUT POLICE STARS NOT GETTING ON
Well, we've heard from Sting's son about the fact that there is some tension on The Police tour, and now drummer Stewart Copeland has spoken out about the difficulties inherent in the band's recent reunion. He says that he often argues with bandmate Sting during rehearsals - but that they always patch things up before hitting the stage.

This isn't the most coherent explanation, but here's what Copeland says on this issue: "There were fights and there still are. Verbal, they were never physical. These days we're on a three or four-day cycle. We're playing nicely, then the little rubs and grinds start, you know, 'Stewart, don't play that', Sting, I wanna. Then, Nyanyanyanyannnnnn... 'You fucking...!' Stomp off. Errrrrrgh! It drives me nuts and I'm thinking, I don't need this, I'm not going to put up with this. Then, a little later it's Sting? 'Stewart?' You know I love you. 'You know I love you too'. Two grown men kissing and hugging tearfully. After that we're on our best behaviour. Until he starts. And I start."

Er... bless?

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JAMES BLUNT SOLD HIS SISTER
No really he did. But to be honest, that headline makes it sound worse than it is. James Blunt has said that he once sold his sister on eBay - but only in order to get her to a funeral on time.

Everyone's favourite ballad-boy says: "I came back to the flat where my sister was staying and she was crying because she couldn't get to a funeral in Ireland. The planes were on strike, the ferry was out of season, and there were no trains. I ended up whacking it on eBay: 'Damsel in distress seeks knight in shining armour! Desperate to get to a funeral in southern Ireland, please help!' The bids flooded in and the guy who won had a helicopter. He flew her to the funeral."

Alls well that ends extremely well, as a matter of fact, however. Blunt goes on to say: "That was three years ago. This summer they're getting married."

Puts a whole new slant on the concept of online dating, really, doesn't it?

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