CMU Daily - on the inside Thursday 18th October
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Record labels sue usenet.com
- Batt thinks German chart rules are, erm, batty
- Foxy makes it to court
- C-murder retrial date set
- Elliott Smith's girlfriend fails in money claim
- Led Zepp may produce some new material
- Devine has surgery
- Confusion over Nas album name and release date
- Eminem back in studio, but no 2007 release
- Manu Chao goes digital
- Ronson talks to Robbie about new material
- Universal plan more USB releases
- iTune Plus expands
- Apple and Orange reach iPhone deal
- EMI pension fund calls in regulator over Terra Firma's contributions
- EMI Publishing announce new US appointments
- Girls Aloud on MySpace secrecy and fraud
- Banhart cares for Lohan - the mixtape way

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TOP BIT POLEMIC
So, more Madonna in the Top Bit then. Warner Music yesterday issued an upbeat statement on Madge's decision to enter into that landmark new deal with Live Nation which, as previously reported, will see the singer release her next three studio albums with the live music conglom rather than Warner (well, I say "next three" - she has one more to go with Warner, then she starts working with Live Nation on record releases).

Dwelling more on the past than the future, the Warner statement read: "Madonna is one of the most remarkable artists of our time. We are excited to issue her upcoming album next year. We are also honoured to own her catalogue of recordings from the past 25 years, as well as to manage her library of songs for an extended period of time. From all of us at Warner Music Group, we thank Madonna for a valued and enduring partnership".

Warner's actual thoughts on the Live Nation deal were more apparent in an internal memo from the label's chief Edgar Bronfman Jr, which has been reprinted by the New York Post. In it Bronfman tells his staff that competing with the $120 million package Live Nation was offering Madonna just wasn't good business, however high profile or profitable she might be as an artist. He wrote: "We remain committed to maintaining financial discipline. We simply will not enter into agreements with artists that fail this test - whether or not the artists are well-known, and regardless of media reaction". Basically, he agrees with the Bank Of America who earlier this week said that Madonna is simply not worth gambling $120 million on.

Warner presumably hope that their public statement will stop people assuming that they are mighty pissed off about the Madonna/Live Nation deal - because if they appear to be pissed off then that implies there is something to be pissed off about - ie that losing Madge is a big problem for the major.

People might think that because that is the angle some media have taken in reporting on the Madonna/Live Nation story - mainly because doing so enables them to link it in with the 'Radiohead self-release online story', and even the 'Paul McCartney signs to Starbucks' story, which all kind of link in to that old chestnut, the 'traditional record labels are all fucked' story.

In reality the loss of Madonna probably has the potential to cause more short term PR damage than long term commercial damage to the major- and, in fact, Warner (and the Bank Of America) are probably right to say that trying to compete with Live Nation's $120 million offer to Madonna would have actually caused more commercial damage long term - it would have been an incredible risk. So Warner are right to say chasing a Madonna deal would have been a bad choice, and to wish her well for her future with Live Nation.

But while Warner shouldn't spend too much time pining the loss of Madonna, they, and all the majors, need to step up their efforts with regards moving into music sectors other than recorded music - ie to do more of those deals with other artists, large and small, that mean they get involved with artists' live activity (and other areas) in the same way Live Nation have got involved in Madonna's recorded music work. So called 360 degree deals have been discussed for some time now, and are the reason why all record labels are not fucked, despite continued declines in record sales. But the record labels have been slow about pursuing such deals and what Live Nation (and Starbucks) have shown is that if they don't get about making those deals soon major players outside the record industry will.

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JOBS N STUFF

AN OUTSTANDING OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN AN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS FIRM
Brunswick Arts creates media campaigns for clients in the arts - including theatre, visual arts, opera, and ballet - and charitable organisations. We are looking to appoint two senior communicators to our UK team, based in London. Candidates must have a thorough understanding of the arts and experience in generating media coverage. A natural networker with enthusiasm and drive, you will be a creative thinker with original ideas for campaigns and new business. Experience of managing teams and budgets is also required. Fluency in a European language is advantageous but not essential.

To apply please send your CV quoting reference SS01/02
to: jobs@graduatejobsnetwork.com

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INTERNSHIPS N STUFF

INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES WITH EXCITING NEW INTERNET PROJECT
GraduateJobsNetwork is a new kind of careers and media company which offers gap-year students and recent graduates a unique way to launch their careers by working on the definitive graduate careers website. We are now recruiting students and recent graduates for a variety of internship programmes between now and Christmas, some full time, some part time. Among the experience you will gain is the following...

Editorial: researching and writing interviews and stories; sub-editing; Apple Mac skills.

Web & Design: operating a content management system; search engine optimisation; image processing; desktop publishing skills.

Sales & Management: running a media company; brainstorming sales leads; building a sales database.

Office Management: managing a company database; chasing payments; keeping accounts.

Marketing: writing press releases; making and phoning PR contacts; liaising with student media.

You will not be paid, but will receive a reference when you complete the programme, and will also have careers guidance from Taylor Bennett, a leading headhunting firm, including CV writing, job interview techniques and networking skills. We are based in Shoreditch, on the edge of the City of London and within easy reach of Spitalfields and Hoxton. The office is 10 minutes away from both Liverpool Street and Old Street stations.

To apply, fill in an application form at http://graduatejobsnetwork.com/gjnappforma.doc and submit it together with your CV as soon as possible to applications@graduatejobsnetwork.com

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RECORD LABELS SUE USENET.COM
The major record companies in the US have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Usenet.com over allegations the online service indirectly sells access to millions of unauthorised music files and "touts its service as a haven for those seeking pirated content".

Usenet.com offers anonymous access to over 100,000 newsgroups that exist on the usenet network. The record companies argue that many of those newsgroups are dedicated to promoting illegal sources of music content. Because Usenet.com offers anonymity to those who post on and access the news groups the service, which users have to pay a monthly subscription to access, provides a network through which people can illegally access content without the risk of being detected by content owners.

The record labels' lawsuit also claims that Usenet.com blatantly boast about the copyright infringement it supports by telling users its service is "the best way to get 'free' music now that file sharing websites are getting shut down".

According to Billboard, the labels say they have contacted Usenet.com on multiple occasions requesting the newsgroups dedicated to copyright infringement be removed, but that they have refused to do so. With that in mind the labels are now seeking an injunction to force Usenet.com to act, as well as unspecified damages for infringement to date.

Usenet.com is yet to comment.

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BATT THINKS GERMAN CHART RULES ARE, ERM, BATTY
This is a bit funny, but also a bit bizarre. Dramatico Entertainment chief Mike Batt has told Billboard he is a bit pissed off about new chart rules in Germany which mean that one of his artists - that Katie Melua chick - has been kept off the number one spot there by a popular comedy DVD.

A comedy video is beating Melua in the album charts because of some slightly odd chart rules that came into effect in Germany back in July. First, positioning in the German music charts, which are compiled by a company called Media Control, are now based on revenues generated rather than units shifted. This means that if your release is retailing at a higher price (and DVDs are generally more expensive than CDs) then you don't need to sell as many copies as something retailing at a lower price in order to get the same chart position.

Second, although a music release must contain at least 50% of actual music to count in the music charts (though music videos can be included in that 50%), comedy CDs do not need to have any music content to get a chart rating. Recognising the popularity of comedy in the German market, Media Control rules now say that "comedy productions which predominantly consist of the spoken word are eligible for inclusion in the charts if they are recordings of stage productions". And that rule seems to apply whether the comedy release is just a sound recording, or is, as in this case, a video recording.

All of which means that comedian Mario Barth's 'Männer Sind Primitiv' DVD, which happens to come bundled with an equivalent CD, is currently topping the German music charts. As it retails for 18-20 euros, while Melua's new album 'Pictures' retails at 13.45 euros, Barth's release does not need to sell as many units to get to the top of the chart. And because of the German chart's comedy rules, it can appear alongside Melua in the music chart despite the lack of music.

While the new chart rules have proven uncontroversial in Germany, Batt of UK based Dramatico says he thinks it is mad that spoken word comedy CDs are appearing in the music charts. He told Billboard: "I don't think its fair to have a spoken word DVD with absolutely no music on it beating [other albums]. This is not anything to do with music. The whole chart has been disadvantaged. It's a music chart, surely? If they want a chart for comedy, let them have a chart for comedy. If they want one for spoken language as opposed to music, that's fine. But where do you stop? Let's put vegetables and grocers in the chart then, and we'll get beaten to No 1 by how many shipments of potatoes go out of the supermarkets. I'm certainly going to make a complaint. It's like being beaten into the No 2 spot by a shipment of bananas. It has nothing to do with records. There's no malice in this, but I don't think it's fair".

Actually he has a very good point there. Fruit and veg should be included in the music charts. What better way to get all those obese kids I was reading about last night eating more healthy than having bananas and broccoli competing with Sugababes and Stereophonics in the charts?

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FOXY MAKES IT TO COURT
So, Foxy Brown has finally made it to court to face those previously reported assault charges. As previously reported Brown, real name Inga Marchand, who is currently in prison for probation violations, last week refused to board a prison bus that was due to take her to court, seemingly because she felt she should have her own chauffeur driven prison limo. After threats by officials that they'd handcuff her and force her on the bus, she seemingly decided to comply, enabling the rescheduled court hearing to go ahead.

At that Marchand pleaded not guilty to the assault charges. She is accused of hitting a woman with a mobile phone during a fight over the volume of her car stereo. She is now due back into court on 17 Dec to face the charges relating to the alleged assault.

The rapper has been jailed for a year after violating probation relating to charges that followed an altercation with two manicurists back in 2004. She violated the probation by skipping court ordered anger management classes and by travelling out of New York without permission.

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C-MURDER RETRIAL DATE SET
More from the rap courts, and a date has been set for the retrial of rapper C-Murder who still stands accused of second degree murder in relation to that much previously reported incident in 2002 when a sixteen year old was shot at a Louisiana nightclub.

As previously reported, C-Murder, real name Corey Miller, is accused of shooting dead teenager Steve Thomas outside a nightclub in 2002. He was found guilty of the killing and jailed, but the original conviction was overturned after a judge ruled prosecutors were wrong to not reveal the criminal backgrounds of certain witnesses key to their case against Miller.

Since being let out of jail Miller has been under house arrest awaiting retrial. The Associated Press yesterday reported that a date for said retrial has now been set - it will kick off on 11 Feb next year. Let's hope that doesn't clash with the Phil Spector retrial - I'm not sure the CMU murder team could cope with two high profile cases at the same time.

Miller faces a life sentence without parole if found guilty of the murder second time round.

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ELLIOTT SMITH'S GIRLFRIEND FAILS IN MONEY CLAIM
The girlfriend of the late Elliott Smith has been told she will see none of the singer-songwriter's money after a court refused to recognise her claim to 15% of his million dollar fortune.

Jennifer Chiba claimed that she was Smith's manager and agent at the time of his untimely death, and that he had made a financial commitment to her, and that she was therefore due 15% of his earnings. But a Californian appellate court this week ruled that Chiba was acting as an "unlicensed agent" of Smith, which means she is not eligible for any of his estate, even though she was managing his finances and affairs at the time of his death.

However, one of the judges hearing the case said that while Chiba had no professional claim to Smith's money, she might have a claim under an implied "co-habitative agreement" which existed, under law, between the couple because they lived together prior to the singer's death. But she would need to go back to court anew to claim monies that way.

Smith, of course, died in gruesome and, some argue, suspicious circumstances in 2003 when, while at home with Chiba, he seemingly stabbed himself in the chest. Officially it was suicide, though the coroner's report at the time was inconclusive as to whether the wounds were definitely self-inflicted.

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LED ZEPP MAY PRODUCE SOME NEW MATERIAL
Despite claims by Led Zeppelin that their much hyped reunion at The O2 next month is a one off, Jimmy Page has admitted that the reunion may lead to some new material being created.

Talking to Canadian newspaper The Winnipeg Sun he said: "We're musicians - as we're playing we'll probably be coming up with all manner of things. That will be fun. Let's do the O2 show, shall we? And then we'll speak to you afterwards".

Sounds like a good idea to me. As previously reported, a remastered version of live DVD 'The Song Remains The Same' will be released to coincide with the reunion concert, and the band's entire catalogue will be available via download platforms for the first time at around about the same time too.

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DEVINE HAS SURGERY
Scottish country singer Sydney Devine is in intensive care in a Spanish hospital after receiving emergency surgery after doctors discovered he had two aneurysms in his aorta. Devine was admitted to the hospital after suffering from stomach pains while staying at his Malaga apartment. A spokesman for Xanit hospital in Benalmadena told the Daily Record: "He has had the operation, he is stable and everything has gone well". Devine, perhaps best know for his version of the song 'Tiny Bubbles', sold 15 million albums at the height of his fame, and is due to perform at Glasgow's Pavilion Theatre next month.

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CONFUSION OVER NAS ALBUM NAME AND RELEASE DATE
Claims by Nas that he would release a new album called 'Nigga' before the end of the year have seemingly been denied by his record label, Universal's Def Jam. Sources there have told FoxNews.com that they have no new Nas album on the release schedule at the moment, and are only aware of the greatest hits package due out via SonyBMG's Columbia, with whom Def Jam have collaborated on Nas releases. The Fox website quote a Def Jam source as saying: "There is no album release by Nas on the release schedule at this point. And they would be unlikely to release an album with that title. How would that look at Wal-Mart?" That said, representatives for both Nas and Def Jam have told AllHipHop.com that the rapper's next album will definitely be called 'Nigga', even if they can't confirm it will have a 2007 release.

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EMINEM BACK IN STUDIO, BUT NO 2007 RELEASE
Another Universal signed hip hop star who won't be delivering a new album this year is Eminem, who has confirmed that although he is now working on a follow up to 2004's 'Encore' it will not be released this year, as some had expected. However, there will be a live DVD, recorded at New York's Madison Square Garden in 2005, released for the Christmas market.

Writing about working on the new long player on his website, Eminem says: "It feels good right now, the energy of the label. For a while, I didn't want to go back to the studio ... I went through some personal things. I'm coming out of those personal things [and] it feels good".

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MANU CHAO GOES DIGITAL
Following the news earlier this week that Led Zeppelin's back catalogue will be finally available via legit download platforms next month, news today that another legend, Manu Chao, has announced his solo catalogue will be going online for the first time next month also. His albums will also get a physical reissue in a special edition kind of fashion. So that's all very exciting.

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RONSON TALKS TO ROBBIE ABOUT NEW MATERIAL
Mark Ronson has confirmed he is talking to Robbie Williams about working on his new album. Ronson, of course, was involved in Williams' more innovative but less well received last album 'Rudebox'. On possible new work with Williams, Ronson says: "Robbie and I have been talking a lot about his next album and I've played him a couple of tracks of mine that he liked. One of the tracks had a southern blues/guitar slide on it. Everyone I've worked with - from Robbie to Lily Allen and Amy like to experiment and challenge themselves, which I feed off".

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UNIVERSAL PLAN MORE USB RELEASES
Universal UK has announced it is planning more of those USB memory stick releases, following trials in the format earlier this year, and a change in chart rules that make singles sold on the memory devices chart eligible. The major is reportedly planning on releasing Keane's previously reported Warchild benefit single plus new releases from Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, Amy Winehouse and Kanye West on USB sticks before the end of the year.

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ITUNE PLUS EXPANDS
The reduction in the price of DRM-free tracks in Apple's iTunes Plus section, which we reported on yesterday, will also coincide with a big boost in the number of tracks available without digital rights management via the iTunes store. Although Universal Music, who are now making their music available without DRM elsewhere, are still refusing to offer DRM-free music to Apple, loads of indie labels will (and indeed have been offering DRM-free music elsewhere for ages now) and as a result some 2 million new tracks will appear on the DRM-free iTunes Plus service very soon.

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APPLE AND ORANGE REACH IPHONE DEAL
Elsewhere in the world of Apple, the computer firm has confirmed that France Telecom's Orange will be its partner on the iPhone in France. An Apple/Orange partnership had been expected in France, but, despite words from France Telecom suggesting a deal was almost done, Apple remained quiet on the arrival of the iPhone in France, which, coupled with rumours the two companies were struggling to reach agreement, led to speculation Apple would go with a different mobile operator there. But clearly an agreement was reached, because Apple yesterday confirmed the arrival of the iPhone via Orange in France on 29 Nov. As previously reported, the iPhone will go on sale in the UK via O2 and in Germany via T-Mobile.

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EMI PENSION FUND CALLS IN REGULATOR OVER TERRA FIRMA'S CONTRIBUTIONS
Pension fund news anyone? Go on, you know you want to. New EMI owners Terra Firma have said they are confident they can quickly resolve a potential dispute between the music firm and trustees of its pension scheme, even though the trustees have taken the dispute to the UK pension regulators.

Trustees of the pension scheme at the London based major have been in negotiations with Terra Firma ever since they made their offer to buy EMI regarding the music company's commitments to the pension fund, and in particular claims that the major's contribution rate needs to go up to cover a short fall.

This week the trustees wrote to beneficiaries of the fund to tell them that those negotiations had so far not reached any agreement, explaining that: "despite its best efforts over a period of months, both preceding and immediately following the takeover, the trustees board...has not been able to reach agreement with the new owner regarding the funding of, and the security available to, the fund from 1 April 2006. Accordingly, the trustee has referred the matter to the pensions regulator, who will initiate the proper process for resolution under UK legislation".

But Terra Firma continue to deny any change in contribution rate is required. They told reporters in a statement last night: "Terra Firma is entirely confident that the scheme does not require an amendment to its contribution rate".

The UK pension regulator has considerable powers to force settlements on companies with regards their pension fund contributions, though they rarely use them because normally their mere involvement is enough to persuade firms and pension funds which are in dispute to reach a settlement. However, given Terra Firma's continued resolve that there is no need to change the current contribution rate, some commentators are speculating that this case may see the regulator take a more proactive role than normal.

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EMI PUBLISHING ANNOUNCE NEW US APPOINTMENTS
Elsewhere in EMI news, EMI Music Publishing has made some exec appointments in the US. Big Jon Platt has become President of West Coast creative, while Dan McCarroll has become VP of East Coast creative. Both will report directly to EMI Music Publishing CEO Roger Faxon, one of the few EMI senior execs whose position is safe post the takeover of the company by those Terra Firma types.

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GIRLS ALOUD ON MYSPACE SECRECY AND FRAUD
Girl Aloud Sarah Harding has said she regularly uses MySpace but under a false name so she can socially network without revealing her pop star status. She told Sky News Online's Technofile that she is a big fan of the web, using it for shopping and social networking. On using MySpace she commented: "Why would you go on under your real name? I've gone on there and put it under a different name. I just did it for a laugh". Harding says she won't even tell her bandmates what her secret identity is.

Meanwhile bandmate Nicola Roberts was asked about all the fake Girls Aloud MySpace pages that have been set up, which masquerade as some kind of official page. Roberts said she thought there were about ten such pages, observing: "It's a nightmare because people thing they're talking to you".

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BANHART CARES FOR LOHAN - THE MIXTAPE WAY
Indie folk type Devendra Banhart has said he has made a mix CD for Lindsay Lohan to help her through her recent rehab traumas.

The pair, from very different regions in planet pop, originally met while doing a feature together for Interview magazine. On the mix CD he told reporters: "I made two mix CDs for her. I put Nico, Vashti Bunyan, Captain Beefheart, Caetano Velso and Joanna Newsome on there. She totally dug them. We ended up talking about Fleetwood Mac who we're both obsessed with".

On Lohan's attempts at rehab, he told news agency WENN: "I haven't talked to her recently. She's taking care of herself. I'm trying to give her some space, because I think now is a tough time for her".

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