CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 17th October
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Live Nation confirm Madonna deal
- Apple drop price of DRM free tracks
- !!! vocalist quits
- Balkan pop star dies in car crash
- Jackson ordered to pay even more to unpaid lawyers
- Britney gets fingerprinted
- Doherty can't remember no shows
- Robbie still struggles post-rehab
- Winehouse shambles
- Weezer man releases demos album
- U2 to rerelease Joshua Tree
- New KD Lang
- Killers rarities galore
- Harry OK with Dunst playing her
- Spice Girls deals
- Kitty, Daisy, Lewis, Christmas
- Album Review: Trentemoller - The Trentemoller Chronicles
- AOL announce new cuts
- Napster goes web based
- SonyBMG enter into licensing deal with MySpace
- YouTube filtering system at beta stage
- Whitehaven goes digital
- Drowned In Sound partners on new company
- Westlife don't see Britney as a threat


We were discussing whether 2007 had proved to be a good year for new music the other day, and there were mixed opinions among team CMU, suggesting, if nothing else, that it hasn't been an especially stand out year. But 2007 has proven to be a key year in the record industry with two things we've been talking about for a long time - the inevitable end of DRM in download sales and the growth of the so called 360 degree artist contract - really coming into effect. Both are in the news today - with Live Nation confirming their much talked about 360 deal with Madonna, and Apple boss Steve Jobs discussing the success of the DRM-free iTunes Plus.

The stupidity of DRM and the importance of 360 deals we've discussed aplenty, so lets dwell on something else revealed by Jobs this week - that Apple will be dropping the price of tracks sold via iTunes Plus to bring it in line with normal iTunes - ie 99 cents/79 pence a track.

This is almost certainly because the download space is about to become competitive again with other download platforms offering DRM free music for less than the original iTunes Plus offer - Amazon, with its variable pricing model, will be offering MP3s from 89 cents. Apple has been immune from past price wars in the download space (not that there has ever been that much of a price war) because such a large part of the market wanted iPod compatible music and, up until now, iTunes was the only legit download operation that supplied iPod compatible major label songs. But post-DRM that is no longer the case, so Apple have lost their primary USP, and will therefore find itself hit by price point battles.

The download platforms themselves will presumably take the initial hit in any price war, but inevitably they will put pressure on the labels to cut their wholesale prices too. Which is interesting, because when EMI first made its catalogue available in a DRM free format, but at a slightly higher unit price, I assumed it was a clever tactic to push up the price of downloads - the record industry having never especially liked the 99 cents / 79 pence a track price point introduced by Apple back in the day, with many label execs claiming it is simply not high enough to be sustainable long term. But with the market opened up post-DRM the labels may have to adapt to cuts rather than increases in price point, which they aren't going to like.

All of which presumably means those 360 deals are even more important. Some of the cleverer music business types have long said that if the record labels want to increase prices bundling and cross-media packages (bundling songs and ringtones and images and tickets and merchandise) are the way forward, not pushing up individual track prices. And if a price war in individual downloads is looming, they are more right than ever.



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So the Wall Street Journal told us this deal was imminent last week, and they were right. The boss of live music conglom Live Nation, you know, that Michael Rapino bloke, yesterday confirmed that his company had entered into an unprecedented global partnership with that Madonna woman which will see the company not only represent Madge's touring interests, but also her recording career and merchandising ventures. The deal sees Live Nation launch a new division that will expand the company's operations beyond just the live entertainment arena, and that division will be known as Artist Nation. The deal also sees Madonna become a shareholder in Live Nation, though the specifics of that arrangement are unknown.

Confirming the deal, which sees her ending her career long recording relationship with Warner Music, Madonna told reporters: "The paradigm in the music business has shifted and as an artist and a business woman, I have to move with that shift. For the first time in my career, the way that my music can reach my fans is unlimited. I've never wanted to think in a limited way and with this new partnership, the possibilities are endless. Who knows how my albums will be distributed in the future? That's what's exciting about this deal - everything is possible. Live Nation has offered me a true partnership and after 25 years in the business, I feel that I deserve that".

As expected, the deal will last for ten years, and will be pretty all encompassing, with Live Nation involving itself in Madonna's brand, tours, studio albums, merchandising, websites, fan clubs, DVDs, music-related TV projects, film projects and related sponsorship. Much of that will be handled by the new Artist Nation division which will be headed up by Michael Cohl, the promoter of, among others, the Rolling Stones, who has been on the Live Nation board since they acquired his company CPI.

Rapino waxed lyrical about his Madonna deal yesterday, telling reporters: "Madonna is a true icon and maverick as an artist and in business. Our partnership is a defining moment in music history".


Back to the Wall Street Journal, and Apple boss Steve Jobs has told the paper that DRM free music sold via iTunes Plus will be coming down in price.

When Apple launched the option to buy some tracks from its catalogue at a higher sound quality and without DRM, following the company's ground breaking deal with EMI earlier this year when the London based major became the first to dump digital rights management, it was revealed that the DRM-free tracks would retail at $1.29/99p, more than the 99cents/79p charged for traditional tracks on iTunes. But according to Jobs those enhanced tracks will now fall in line with standard iTunes prices.

In the same interview the Apple boss talked up how popular iTunes Plus had proven, though he didn't explain why, given that fact, the company was cutting prices. But commentators reckon the arrival of DRM-free iPod compatible music on rival download platforms at cheaper prices, and especially Amazon, who will sell MP3s for as little as 89 cents, is behind Apple's decision.


John Pugh, vocalist and percussionist with !!!, has announced he has left the band, which isn't that surprising given his absence from various summer gigs. He told Alternative Press magazine that he has left the band so he has more time to create "manic background music for ensuing debauchery" with his other musical venture Free Blood. Shannon Funchness has been providing Pugh's vocals at recent !!! gigs, so we assume that will continue to be the case in the long term.


A pop star with a huge following in the Balkans, Tose Proeski, has died in a car crash in Croatia. Police say the singer died when his car collided with a lorry on a motorway near the eastern Croatian town of Nova Gradiska.

Proeski was a big star in his home country of Macedonia, who he represented in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004. Fans gathered in the streets of capital Skopje yesterday after hearing the news, radio stations played his songs back to back, and today has been declared a day of national mourning.

To give you an idea of Proeski's profile in the country, Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski led the tributes to the pop star, telling reporters: "We all have been blessed with such a great singer and with his immense soul filled with love", while the head of the country's Orthodox Church, Archbishop Stefan, said "Macedonia and the Balkans lost an angel".


Michael Jackson has been ordered to pay an additional $175,000 to legal firm Ayscough And Marar, who successfully sued the singer over unpaid fees earlier this year. The latest figure is to compensate the law firm for having to hire an, erm, law firm to represent it in its original legal fight.

As previously reported, Ayscough And Marar assisted with some periphery matters relating to Jacko's high profile child abuse court case back in 2005, as well as on his dispute with former business associate Marc Schaffel. When their work went unpaid they sued Jackson, who promptly counter-sued, as you do. But Jacko's countersuit was thrown out of court and he was ordered to pay the law firm the $256,000 in unpaid fees. With the new legal costs judgement, Jackson now owes Ayscough And Marar $430,000.

Jackson's current attorney (who knows when he's getting paid, one hopes) Thomas Mundell has reportedly told reporters "We're very happy with this outcome", though it is unclear if that means the singer will now pay up. Ayscough And Marar confirmed this week it is yet to see the original $256,000 let alone the new monies.


Britney Spears reported to an LA police station on Monday night to be photographed and fingerprinted ahead of that court hearing due to consider allegations that the singer bumped into another vehicle and then drove off, in violation of LA laws. As previously reported, a judge ordered last week that Spears be photographed and fingerprinted as part of the proceedings against her. A police spokesman told reporters: "She was fine, cooperative. She did her business and came out".

Meanwhile, there are reports Britney bumped into another car this weekend, though this time, lesson learned presumably, she immediately went to apologise to the owner of the other vehicle, even though it was a paparazzi. She told the snapper: "I'm stupid, I'm sorry... I'm a horrible driver", before joking, "Are you going to sue me or something?". But the photographer told her not to worry about it.

And elsewhere in Spears nonsense, reports that the singer recently visited Hollywood's Virgin Megastore to buy the new Timbaland album but left with a CD by ex Timberlake instead. Apparently Spears didn't want to face the press pack who followed her to the store, so she asked a friendly photographer to go and fetch the Timbaland album for her. Whether he genuinely misheard her instructions or just thought it would be funny to get her a copy of ex-boyfriend Justin's record instead isn't clear. Either way, Spears just kept the copy of 'FutureSex/LoveSounds' and drove off.


Pete Doherty has said he has little recollection of all those gigs he missed back in the day. As previously reported, Pete is actually doing better in his attempts at rehab this time round, and he's been talking about the experience to Radio 1's Zane Lowe. Asked if he felt bad for all those no show gigs, Doherty said: "Well, it's difficult to think of something that you can't remember ... but embarrassing is the right word sometimes". That's alright Pete, we forgive you. Not that I was ever at one of those gigs. But I had to write about every single one. So I wasn't completely un-inconvenienced.


Talking of the drug problems of pop, Robbie Williams ex-girlfriend Suzanne Coplin has told the News Of The World that the singer still finds it a struggle to avoid the temptations of drink and drugs, despite months of rehab in Arizona. She told the tab: "His addictions are far from behind him. It is a struggle for him to stay out of trouble every second of his life. He is just so vulnerable and said to me, 'When will I be free from this hell?'"


And talking of Doherty, and drug addicts, Babyshambles and Amy Winehouse have collaborated on a new song called '1939 Returning' in which the latter both sings and plays acoustic guitar. On the collaboration, Babyshambler Mik Whitnall told NME: "She plays better than James Brown playing acoustic guitar. She thinks she's shit but she's not. I've never met a girl who plays like that, let alone a man". The track is rumoured to be getting an online release sometime soon. Which is nice. Perhaps Doherty, Winehouse and Williams could all help offer each other some post-rehab support and collaborate on a song. It's about time Grange Hill classic 'Just Say No' got covered.


Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo has announced that an album of his demo recordings is due to be released. Writing on his MySpace, Cuomo said: "I've compiled a CD of my favourite demos from the years 1992 to 2007 and Geffen Records has agreed to put it out this December, on the eleventh. I hope you enjoy it. I may also be able to put out more demo CDs in the near future. Not to mention the Weezer developments, which are also extremely great".

The demos album is to be called 'Alone - The Home Recordings Of River Cuomo' and, as he wrote there, will be released in the US on 11 Dec. No word on the ifs and whens of a UK release. Nor any timetable for the new Weezer album which is in development and which, I'm deducing from that blog entry, will be "extremely great".


U2 are going to re-release their classic Brian Eno produced album 'Joshua Tree' to mark its 20th anniversary. All sorts of versions will be available, including a box set which will include a double CD, DVD and photos of the band. That's right, photos of the band. Life is glorious, isnt it?


New kd lang anyone? Well, I can help you with that. Because Ms Lang will release a new album called 'Watershed' next February, her first original studio album in eight years.


"But what", I hear you say, "is on that previously reported The Killers rarities album 'Sawdust'". Well, you are in luck, because we have a tracklisting for you. Well, we have a US tracklisting for you. There's a chance the UK version will be slightly different, I'm told. Whatever, expect 'Sawdust' to include some or all of the following...

All The Pretty Faces
Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf
Sweet Talk
Under The Gun
Where The White Boys Dance
Show You How
Move Away
Glamorous Indie Rock And Roll
Who Let You Go?
The Ballad Of Michael Valentine
Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town
Daddy's Eyes
Sam's Town (Abbey Road version)
Romeo And Juliet
Mr Brightside (Thin White Duke remix)


Deborah Harry has denied reports she was unhappy that Kirsten Dunst had been cast to play her in a forthcoming biopic. There was much criticism among some Blondie fans when it was announced Dunst would play Harry in the Michael Gondry film about her life. Dunst responded by saying Harry had personally chosen her for the role so fans should "take it up with her". Rumours then circulated saying that was untrue, and Harry was actually unhappy with the casting. But, while not commenting on whether she actually personally picked the actress, Harry has now said she is happy with her playing her.

Speaking to, Harry said: "She's [Dunst] a really sweet person. I've met with her a couple of times and hung out with her socially. She's just a sweetie. She's probably capable of a lot of things she hasn't been asked to do yet, and doing something that's sort of left of centre would be great for her".


Following the recently reunited Take That's decision to dress up in M&S gear as part of a marketing deal with the high street store, the recently reunited Spice Girls have now entered into a deal worth a reported five million with Tesco. The supermarket giant will sponsor the Girls' UK reunion tour, plus the group will appear in two pre-Christmas TV ads for the retailer.

Meanwhile, in the US the band and their label, EMI's Capitol, have enterted into a deal with Victoria's Secret which will see the lingerie retailer have exclusive rights to sell the group's greatest hits in the US until the New Year.


Wow, Christmas stories already. You wouldn't believe how many emails I've had from PRs saying "preparing your end of year lists?" No I'm not. It's only October for God's sake. I'm not currently thinking past Hallowe'en. Yep, I'm not even consider Guy Fawkes night yet.

But we'll make an exception here because CMU favourites Kitty, Daisy & Lewis have just announced details of their very own Christmas Party which will take place on 8 Dec at The Dome in Tufnell Park, North London, and which sounds like fun.

They have invited I Blame Coco (including Ben Hudson and Joy Joseph from Mr Hudson & The Library) to support them, while Gaz from Gaz's Rockin Blues will DJ. It should be fun. Tickets are a tenner in advance, £12.50 on that there door. There'll be more info at I am guessing.


ALBUM REVIEW: Trentemoller - The Trentemoller Chronicles (Audiomatique)
This follow up to last year's impressive 'The Last Resort' album is not a new album as such, but rather a kind of Greatest Hits to date, collating rare singles and mixes on one CD and remixes of other acts on another. Disc one starts off fairly mellow, but gradually ups the tempo. The early tracks are all filmic glitchtronica (with some lovely Satie-style piano on 'Klodsmajor') or spacey ambience full of warm synth washes, ocean-deep bass and alien beats and blips. Two tracks feature vocals: the moody strings of 'Moan', featuring Ann Trolle, make it subtle but emotive, whilst Trentemoller's own remix of his 'Always Something Better' (featuring Richard Davis), still sounds utterly awesome, a piledriving slab of bass-heavy progressive acid techno. All of which sets things up nicely for CD2, a generally more upbeat affair, whose remixes showcase Anders Trentemoller's devastating capabilities when set loose on other acts (The Knife, Moby, Royksopp and Robyn being particular notables). Pulsating stuff. MS
Release date: 22 Oct
Press contact: Darling Department [all]


AOL is reportedly reducing its workforce by 20%, which is about 2000 people. This follows a 5000 people downsize last year, and is all related to the firm's move away from providing 'closed wall' services to its subscription paying ISP customers to providing advertising funded services to all.

In an internal memo preceding the latest people axe, AOL CEO Randy Falco explained: "Just over a year ago, AOL embarked on an incredibly complex and significant transformation as we fundamentally shifted our business model from a subscription-based ISP to an advertising-supported web company. As a part of this realignment ... we begin a reduction in force that will, over the next couple of months, affect a total of about 2,000 people out of our worldwide workforce of 10,000".

It isn't clear whether the moves will affect AOL's music division, or how many of the cuts will happen over here.


Napster has announced it is revamping so that people can access its subscription service via a web interface rather than having to download the bespoke Napster application. Crucially it means Napster subscribers can tap into their account, and access tracks from Napster's 5 million catalogue, on any PC, not just PCs where they have installed the relevant software. Just as crucially, it also means the Napster service will be available to Mac and Linux users for the first time. So, hurrah for that.


SonyBMG has entered into a new licensing deal with those MySpace boys which will see the major make more content available via the social networking service in return for a cut of ad revenues. Which is great news. For those people still using MySpace. Anyone? Come on, someone?


YouTube is reportedly close to revealing its long awaited video filtering system which is crucial to the video sharing platform's agreements with major content owners, including the major record companies, in that, in theory at least, it gives those content owners control over whether or not their content can be uploaded, and also tracks how often their content is shared for the purpose of passing on a cut of advertising revenues. Those content owners who have entered into licensing deals with YouTube will only have done so on the basis such technology and controls would be introduced as soon as possible. The new system, called YouTube Video Identification, is now at beta stage. It is not known how well it works, who will test it, and when it will go properly live.

Commenting on the new system, a spokesman for the company explained: "Copyright holders can choose what they want done with their videos: whether to block, promote, or even - if a copyright holder chooses to partner with us - create revenue from them, with minimal friction".

The technology may also placate those content owners who are yet to enter into deals with YouTube, and maybe even those currently pursuing copyright infringement litigation against them - most notably Viacom. However YouTube and owners Google are keen to distance the new technology from legal obligations - because it is important they maintain the standpoint that such technology is not required under US copyright law (which Viacom would suggest it is) otherwise they are in danger of becoming liable for copyright infringement for any videos shared without their owner's permission prior to the introduction of the filter.


All eyes, well, some eyes are on Whitehaven in Cumbria this morning after analogue broadcasts of BBC2 went off the air there over night. As previously reported, Whitehaven is the first place in the UK to lose analogue TV - BBC1, ITV 1 and Channel 4 will also cease analogue broadcasts there on 14 Nov. All of which means BBC2 fans in Whitehaven have had to get their digital telly sets up and running pronto, and everyone else will have to do so in the next week or so.

While some - us, for example - have questioned the haste with which the British government is trying to turn off analogue TV signals, the CEO of the body charged with turning the country over to digital, Ford Ennals of Digital UK, told reporters: "Tomorrow is the first step on the road to a fully digital UK. Whitehaven is well prepared to lead this process. Most households are ready to receive digital television and we expect those yet to prepare to do so over the next four weeks. The people of Whitehaven and surrounding communities can rightly feel proud of leading this important change, and of the work of local organisations such as Copeland Borough Council and Northwest Cumbria Age Concern who, along with the Digital Switchover Help Scheme, are supporting the community through this process. Our challenge now is to make sure help is widely available for those who need it and that any late converters get themselves ready for the final switchover on November 14".

Assuming Whitehaven goes to plan the analogue switch off will then take place over the whole UK, region by region, between 2008 and 2012. So you better get a digibox for that old portable TV in the spare room which will become redundant in a year or two.


Music website Drowned In Sound and partners Silentway have announced a joint venture with BSkyB which will see them launch a new company, to be called Quietus Group, which will launch a number of new sites around the Drowned In Sound community driven content model.

Drowned In Sound founder, and now Quietus Editor In Chief, Sean Adams told CMU: "This is a really significant deal for everyone at It means we can take the site into a much more honed and professional realm. What's most exciting is that this finally provides an opportunity to invest in and develop many of the ideas I've had on the backburner for years. This deal enables us to launch several similar editorially-led communities which I believe will have a real impact on the tone of modern music".


As if Britney doesn't have enough to worry about at the moment, now Westlife's Nicky Byrne has said no one like's her anymore. The Westlife boys' new album comes out a week after Britney's, but Byrne says he thinks it unlikely that will stop them getting another number one. He told reporters: "I would be surprised if Britney keeps us off number one, I don't think the interest in Britney's music is as big as it used to be. It's more about her personal life. I'm sure it's a good album but I think she's lost her core fan base". So that's Britney told.

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