CMU Daily - on the inside Tuesday 8th January
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- SonyBMG announce DRM-free music card promotion in US
- Napster to go DRM-free
- UK album sales down
- US album sales down even more
- Digital won't compensate for physical until at least 2010
- Shins keyboardist in court after girlfriend bust up
- James Brown judge will stay on
- Bif Naked diagnosed with cancer
- Coldplay keeping options open for post-EMI deal
- Yorke denies EMI deal failed over cash demands
- Reznor on his Saul Williams download offer - how did it go?
- Skinner on killing The Beats
- X-Factor runner up signed, former American Idol dropped
- Rap banned in Reading - well, not really
- Primal Scream man on Lovefoxx collaboration
- Foals on leaving favourites off album
- Jackson O2 residency?
- British Music Week Berlin returns
- Single Review: Kings Have Long Arms Featuring Candie Payne - Big Umbrella
- EMI Pubs re-signs Norah
- Moby and Felix sign to Strictly Confidential
- Warner fortunes nosedive - is a takeover on the cards?
- Music names cameo at CES
- Live Nation ticketing announcement expected
- Pandora to block non-Americans
- GCap shares boom after takeover offer
- Capital may reunite Johnny and Denise
- Blake jealous of Winehouse's holiday
- Gates career on ice?

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TOP BIT
So, after yesterday's 'told you so' DRM rant (and thanks to all the 'yeah, I told them so too' emails that came in) a more logistical Top Bit for you today, given that this is the first week back proper, and everyone will be in their "I'm going to be more efficient this year, you'll see" mode for at least another 48 hours. Which means now is as good a time as any to make sure you're up to speed on how to stay in touch with us here at CMU.

People often ask where the news that appears in CMU comes from, and the answer is two places - our news gathering team, who now monitor over 50 news and music media everyday to keep track of the latest developments in the world of music, and our press team, who plough through the 100s of press releases that come in each day. Hey, that makes us sound grand doesn't it? We're not really. Press releases (or any random bits of news) should be send to musicnews@unlimitedmedia.co.uk rather than individual CMU people, because different people go through the press releases each day, and that's the inbox they check. If you're an unsigned band or tiny indie, do send in anything you have that could constitute a news story - we're always up for covering you guys. No need to agonise over writing a long press release, just email over the basics to that address.

A separate team look after reviews. We currently have 20 reviewers all over the UK, many recruited via CMU's college correspondent programme, and we will be doubling the size of that team in the next three months in order to feed a new much expanding review service that will be appearing on our websitesoon.

CDs for review should be mailed to CMU, UnLimited Media, Fl 3 Unicorn House, 221-222 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6PJ. All CDs get logged here at our Shoreditch HQ, and are distributed through a weekly reviewer meeting each Monday, and to our non-London reviewers via mail each Tuesday. If you are chasing a review, you should email musicreviews@unlimitedmedia.co.uk because various people are involved in the CD review process but they all check that inbox.

Finally, our man Owen is now in charge of SNAP Of The Day, so if you have artists you want to put forward for the all round prestige that comes with being featured in our daily social networking slot, then you should email owen@unlimitedmedia.co.uk.

Finally, finally, don't forget if you media types are ever looking for commentary on anything to do with music, CMU co-Editor Chris Cooke is always available (during recent appearances on News 24, Radio 5, Sky News, BBC World and the World Service he's commented on everything from Prince suing his fans to Guy Hands slagging off his artist to Madonna signing with Live Nation to the relevance, or not, of Christmas number ones). Just email chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9050 for comment.

And that is enough logistics for now.

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JOBS N STUFF

CD POOL AND XPRESSBEATS REQUIRE A DESIGNER
We are looking for a young, enthusiastic and creative designer. You must have good knowledge using both Adobe Photoshop & Macromedia Flash. DreamWeaver or other html creation software knowledge preferred but not essential. Training will be provided to perform basic tasks in Freehand and Quark. Design based duties will include regular creation of advertisements in the form of static and animated web banners, magazine adverts and email templates and creation of template based CD artwork. The successful candidate is likely to be fresh out of Uni and MUST have a love of dance music! In addition to the design responsibilities the candidate will also help the technical team ingest music for our range of download stores. Please e-mail your CV to admin@cdpool.co.uk. Interviews will be conducted this month.

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SNAP OF THE DAY: JOHNNY FLYNN
Having been listening to Johnny Flynn's alt-folk classic 'The Box' for some time now, I've come to the conclusion that I really should have had him in a SNAP slot before everyone else caught on, because now they've all declared it a classic too and made CMU look like a bit of a bandwagon jumper. We aren't any such thing, of course - we're just a bit forgetful now and again. Either way, may I now highly recommend heading to Flynn's Myspace for a listen to 'The Box', which affirms his position near the top of an ever growing list of burgeoning folk talent in London, including 17-year-old songstress Laura Marling and previous SNAP inclusion, Noah And The Whale.

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyflynn

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SONYBMG ANNOUNCE DRM-FREE MUSIC CARD PROMOTION IN US
Those crazy SonyBMG types have revealed more details of their first move into DRM-free digital music, the previously mentioned MP3 card promotion in North America.

The so called Platinum MusicPass will launch on 15 Jan via three retailers, and will enable music fans to buy special 'album packs' for various SonyBMG releases which include album artwork and a card containing a code which, when typed in at a special website, MusicPass.com, will enable the fan to download the tracks off the album as DRM-free MP3s.

The scheme, which will launch at Best Buy, Target and Fred's, before rolling out to Trans World and Winn-Dixie stores, and to various other retailers in Canada, is really more about combining the high street and digital record buying experience than launching SonyBMG into the DRM-free market. But the digital bit needs to be DRM-free because if a high street record shopper bought an album on CD they would be able to go home and rip tracks off it as DRM-free MP3s, meaning that the MusicPass version of a release would be much less desirable if the digital tracks did come with digital rights management technology.

The MusicPass cards will retail at $12.99, making them a bit cheaper than the average CD release. The major also plans to entice consumers by including exclusive bonus content on the card releases. Albums that will be available via the MusicPass programme at launch include Backstreet Boys' 'Unbreakable', Bruce Springsteen's 'Magic', Celine Dion's 'Taking Chances' and John Mayer's 'Continuum'.

Confirming the new venture, the major's VP Global Digital Gubbins, Thomas Hesse, told reporters: "We see MusicPass as a great way to bring digital music to the physical retail space. We believe it will have strong appeal for a broad range of consumers, and that it will ultimately expand both the digital and physical markets for music".

As previously reported, SonyBMG is the only one of the four majors yet to make a major announcement regarding the sale of its digital catalogue without DRM. In addition to the MusicPass promotion, it is expected to announce it will make some or all of its catalogue available via Amazon's MP3 platform sometime this month, spurred on by Warner's recent announcement that it was signing up to Amazon's DRM-free platform and Amazon's plans to launch a high profile MP3 promotion with Pepsi during this year's Superbowl.

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NAPSTER TO GO DRM-FREE
More DRM-free nonsense for you everybody. Napster yesterday said it would too leap on the DRM-free bandwagon by offering music in it's a la carte download store as MP3 files from early Spring. Obviously DRM will still be used in its subscription service - such services only really possible if a provider is able to turn off access to tracks once a subscription lapses.

Napster chief Chris Gorog said in a statement: "The ubiquity and cross-platform compatibility of MP3s should create a more level playing field for music services and hardware providers and result in greater ease of use and broader adoption of digital music".

The statement didn't say which record companies' music Naspter would carry without DRM, though by early Spring DRM will surely be completely assigned to a file marked 'Major Fuck Ups Of Our Time, Let's Not Talk About It', so I'm guessing all of them.

Despite the addition of DRM-free music to its a la carte download store, Napster say they will continue to focus primarily on their subscription service. The digital music firm recently informed its subscribers that the cost of its basic package would rise, in the US from $9.95 to $12.95 a month.

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UK ALBUM SALES DOWN
Album sales in the UK fell by 10.8% last year when compared to 2006, though with 138.1 million units shifted in the last twelve months, the album market was still up 26% on ten years ago, so not all doom and gloom. Needless to say, the continuing download boom helped single sales go up, up, up, by 29.3%.

Which is all well and good, but what does BPI chief Geoff Taylor think about it all, that's what I want to know. Oh look, here he is now: "The UK market has shown considerable resilience in recent years while global recorded music markets have declined. Home grown talent continues to shine with strong new releases from Leona Lewis, Newton Faulkner and Arctic Monkeys joining Amy Winehouse and Mika in the year's best-sellers list".

"The industry continues to innovate in developing new online and mobile business models. Nonetheless, this remains a period of transition, and the industry's move to tap into a wider pool of revenue streams, particularly in digital, will take time to offset the combined impact of digital piracy, album unbundling and difficult retail trading conditions. The UK market remains a strong performer internationally and the pace of growth in digital sales is particularly encouraging".

He concluded: "Music in all its forms is more popular than ever and the recorded music sector will reap the benefits as the online market matures". Brilliant.

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US ALBUM SALES DOWN EVEN MORE
Similar doom and even more gloom in the US where album sales in 2007 were down 15% on the previous year, from 588.2 million units in 2006 to 500.5 million units in 2007. Though there was a silver lining there, also, where digital album sales were up 53% and digital single sales 45%, enabling music stat types Nielsen to declare that the overall recorded music market was up 14%. Which is nice.

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DIGITAL WON'T COMPENSATE FOR PHYSICAL UNTIL AT LEAST 2010
All that optimism, ha, we'll have to do something about that. How about new research by Jupiter published in Music Week this week that reckons the European digital market will not properly compensate for the decline in physical CD sales until at least 2010, meaning another two years of "belt-tightening and cost-cutting" before any real recovery can be achieved? That sounds like fun. Jupiter Research's Mark Mulligan told Music Week: "The halcyon days of the music industry are gone. Digital is not about to return it to the days of 2000 and 2001 - the slightly depressing story is that it's going to return the industry to where it is now. What's happening is not a blip, it's a re-alignment, and it has further to drop yet". Of course what Mulligan presumably means is the halcyon days of the "record industry" are gone. Personally I suspect good times are ahead in the music business, just not for those who are exclusively in the business of releasing old school recordings.

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SHINS KEYBOARDIST IN COURT AFTER GIRLFRIEND BUST UP
Shins boy Marty Crandall was jailed last week for allegedly assaulting his (now ex) girlfriend, Elyse Sewell. The keyboardist and occasional bassist is accused of beating up his other half during an altercation at a hotel in Sacramento, California last Friday. Sewell was also initially arrested and jailed for her part in the fracas, though she was let out before her former boyfriend, who was kept in jail until Sunday. Both of them are now due in court today.

The first reports of the incident came after Sewell made a blog entry about the whole thing. Among other things, she accused Crandall of being petty for insisting she also be charged over the bust up, writing: "Because he [Marty] had a bite mark, inflicted in self-defense, on his arm, Marty told the police to press charges of domestic violence against me. Now I am a felon. I spent the night in jail". She added that she was annoyed that the charges meant she would have to stay in Sacramento until today's court hearing, but added on a more upbeat note: "I'm single and um, ready to mingle. Blind date, anyone?"

Sewell's blog entry has now been taken down, seemingly following recommendations by her lawyer that it could affect her case in court, but not before it had been widely circulated on the net. With that in mind, The Shins label Sub Pop yesterday issued its own statement on the incident, saying: "Marty Crandall and his ex-girlfriend Elyse Sewell were both arrested over the weekend following an argument at a Sacramento hotel which resulted in hotel staff calling the police. They were both taken into police custody and released over the weekend. There will be no further comment at this time and we would appreciate their privacy being respected".

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JAMES BROWN JUDGE WILL STAY ON
The judge overseeing the debacle surrounding James Brown's will has refused to step down from the case. As previously reported, Judge Jack Early has been accused by two former trustees of the late Brown's estate of exercising "improper judicial influence" in allegedly forcing them to step down from their positions in relation to the trust. Buddy Dallas and Alford Bradley have asked for their resignations as trustees to Brown's estate to be overturned because, they say, they only resigned because of Early's recommendation, a recommendation they now believe the judge should not have made. The two trustees stood down after a third trustee, David Cannon, was accused of misappropriating funds - Dallas and Bradley, some with interests in Brown's will argued, should have prevented Cannon from acting inappropriately in his handling of Brown's affairs. Responding to Dallas and Bradley's claims, Early firstly refused to have their resignations set aside, and then said he saw no reason for he himself to step away from the case. He added: "I would never force anyone to do anything, that's not me".

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BIF NAKED DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER
Canadian punk singer Bif Naked, aka Beth Torbert, has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will under go a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy. Torbert revealed her condition during a radio show last weekend, telling the host she had found a "weird bumpy lumpy in my breast" just before Christmas, and that now hse was " in the fight of my life". Her manager, Peter Karroll, has since announced Torbert is scheduled to receive surgery this week.

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COLDPLAY KEEPING OPTIONS OPEN FOR POST-EMI DEAL
Rumour has it that Coldplay could be the latest chart topping band to shun the traditional record company relationship, with the Daily Star citing a source who says the band are considering going it alone once their current recording commitments to EMI are complete.

That said, what the source really says is that the band won't rush into any new record deal, recognising that the record industry is in a state of flux, which is only sensible. And given that Chris Martin et al still have two more albums to deliver on their current EMI contract, even if one of those was a greatest hits album, the band won't need to be rushing into anything just yet.

The Star's source says: "There's so much uncertainty in the record industry right now. The boys don't necessarily need a label anymore. They aren't even considering putting pen to paper on any type of new contract until they see what happens".

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YORKE DENIES EMI DEAL FAILED OVER CASH DEMANDS
Talking of bands quitting EMI, Radiohead's Thom Yorke has criticised his former label for claiming that they didn't reach a new deal with the current chart toppers because the band was simply asking for too much money.

Yorke's comments follow a recent interview with Bryce Edge, the band's co-manager, in The Times, who discussed their decision to go with independent labels for the physical release of new album 'In Rainbows', rather than re-signing to their old label EMI. Edge claiming the sticking point was the band's "moral rights" over their back catalogue, which is owned by the major. He says they wanted to be assured a say in how the major exploited the back catalogue in the future before signing a deal on the new material, but that EMI and its new owner, Guy Hands, wouldn't budge on that issue.

Edge told the broadsheet: "We sold 25m records and we have the moral rights over those six albums. We wanted a say in how they are exploited in the future. We were not seeking a big advance payment, or a guaranteed marketing spend as discussions never got that far". The deal collapsed, he said, because Hands "refused to discuss the catalogue in a meaningful way".

However, when the Times approached EMI for comment, the major seemingly alleged the sticking point was more tangible, claiming the band was asking for too big an advance. A spokesman for the major was quoted by the broadsheet thus: "Radiohead were demanding an extraordinary amount of money and we did not believe that our other artists should have to subsidise their gains".

It's those comments that have pissed off Yorke. He has told reporters: ''We did not ask for a load of cash from ... EMI to re-sign. That is a lie". He added that he didn't think Hands should be allowing such accusations to be made by his PR department, adding: ''To be digging up such bullshit, or, more politely, airing [your] dirty laundry in public, seems a very strange way for the head of an international record label to be proceeding".

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REZNOR ON HIS SAUL WILLIAMS DOWNLOAD OFFER - HOW DID IT GO?
And talking of innovative online promotions, which we weren't, but Yorke probably has been, Nine Inch Nails man Trent Reznor has said he was "disheartened" by the response to the previously reported Saul Williams digital album offer which he was involved in.

As previously reported, Williams new album, 'The Inevitable Rise And Liberation Of NiggyTardust', which was produced by Reznor, was made available online. Fans could choose between a free standard download, or pay a fiver for higher quality MP3s. The plan, presumably, was that existing fans would want to pay for their download, while those not normally exposed to Williams' work may take the free download this time, but if impressed might buy future releases, or pay the five dollars to upgrade to the better quality version this time. But did it work?

Well, writing about the whole thing last week, Reznor seems rather disappointed. He wrote: "Perhaps by revealing of all our data - our 'dirty laundry' - we can contribute to a better solution. As of 1/2/08, 154,449 people chose to download Saul's new record. 28,322 of those people chose to pay $5 for it, meaning: 18.3% chose to pay. Is it good news that less than one in five feel it was worth $5? I'm not sure what I was expecting but that percentage - primarily from fans - seems disheartening".

However, Reznor did see a silver lining, recognising Williams' music may have reached more people this way, and noting that they had saved a lot of money associated with making and marketing traditional CD releases. He concluded: "Saul's music is in more peoples' iPods than ever before and people are interested in him. He'll be touring throughout the year and we will continue to get the word out however we can".

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SKINNER ON KILLING THE BEATS
Mike Skinner last month killed off his own record label venture The Beats, through which he had signed The Mitchell Brothers, Example and Professor Green, and he's told the NME that he decided to bring the label project to an end because "the traditional record label is dead". He continued: "The Beats represents me growing up. Spectating was more nerve-wracking than performing. What I'm doing now is looking for the thing you can create that embraces the next generation. I'm really into what you can do online and I'd rather be at the centre of it".

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X-FACTOR RUNNER UP SIGNED, FORMER AMERICAN IDOL DROPPED
As expected, Rhydian Roberts, the runner up on last year's 'X-Factor', whose defeat, of course, led to accusations the show's phone in voting system was flawed, has been signed by Simon Cowell. According to the Sun, Roberts debut single will be released in the next couple of months, and his debut album may well be released ahead of that of the show's winner Leon Jackson, so that's nice.

In sort of related news, SonyBMG US's J Records division, which signs the winners of 'American Idol', has confirmed it has parted company with the show's 2006 winner Taylor Hicks. A somewhat non-committal statement from the major said: "Taylor is going to record on his own for the next album". Hick's eponymous debut studio album did enjoy success - debuting at number two and shifting 699,000 units - though the long player failed to match previous Idol albums in terms of passing the million units landmark and providing chart topping single material. Though Hicks did self-release two live albums prior to winning the pop reality show, so it is possible the decision to end the SonyBMG relationship was mutual.

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RAP BANNED IN READING - WELL, NOT REALLY
This is a bit bizarre. Gangsta rap may be banned in Reading after claims that a violent fight at a bar in the town was in part caused by music being played there. Presumably the logic is that those involved in the fight were only there because of the soundtrack at the Café du Sport bar. Or possibly that they only became violent because of the music.

Whatever, local paper the Reading Evening News reports that town centre inspector John Ralph said after the fight: "If the general consensus throughout all town centre bars and clubs is that the heavier side of R'n'B, hip hop and gangsta rap music attracts violence, Thames Valley Police will look into banning it. The matter will first be discussed in depth with PubWatch, which overlooks clubs and bars in Reading".

I'm not entirely sure how Thames Valley Police could ban rap music, even if they wanted to, but the manager of the Café du Sport venue, Colin Charles, argues that either way the music shouldn't be blamed. He told the paper: "This type of R'n'B is played in bars across Reading all the time and has nothing to do with gangsta rap music. I have never experienced violence like this at one of my events before. The police are out of touch if they think old skool R'n'B and funky house from the 90s will make people violent. If anything should be banned from the town centre, it should be under 21-year-olds, trainers and sportswear - then you'll see a massive reduction in trouble".

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PRIMAL SCREAM MAN ON LOVEFOXX COLLABORATION
Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie has been talking to the NME about recording a track with CSS singer Lovefoxxx for his band's next album. He says he first ran into CSS in their hometown of Sao Paulo, but that he first asked Lovefoxxx to sing with him afer a London gig. Gillespie: "I went to see them at the Astoria and I think I asked her then. Then I wrote her an email and sent her the song and she was really into it". The resulting song, he says, "sounds fucking great".

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FOALS ON LEAVING FAVOURITES OFF ALBUM
Talking of talking to the NME, Foals have told NME.com why they have decided to leave two fan favourite tracks, 'Hummer' and 'Mathletics', off their debut long player, 'Antidotes', which is due out in March. The band's Yannis Philippakis says: "We didn't think it was a big deal. We'd already released those songs, so why release them again? We took a lot of care over the way the album was sequenced and we just thought, 'Fuck it, let's do the 11 tracks we want to'. With a few albums, you've already heard a lot of the songs on there. We didn't want an album where some of the tracks aren't as good as others. If people want to kill us, they should take solace in the fact that there will be a Japanese version of the album with a separate disc of extra tracks including the singles. But hopefully they won't want to kill us".

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JACKSON O2 RESIDENCY?
Word has it Michael Jackson could play a thirty night residency at London's O2 Arena later this year, the latest rumour of Jacko related gigs and tours to surface. Jacko is expected to tour later this year to [a] promote his planned new album and [b] raise some cash to pay off his spiralling debts.

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FIRST GREAT ESCAPERS
The first list of bands for The Great Escape 2008 have been announced. Once again the Barfly organised convention will take over venues right across Brighton in the middle of the city's May festival. This year's event will run from 15-17 May, will take in more than 25 venues, and will feature appearances from The Young Knives, Tunng, Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong, Lightspeed Champion, Peter Von Poehl, School Of Language, Black Mountain and Fujiya & Miyagi.

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BRITISH MUSIC WEEK BERLIN RETURNS
The BPI has announced it will again stage one of those British Music Week showcase events in Berlin, though with a new structure and a locally recruited management team. The event will be promoted by a new company specifically established for it - British Music Week Germany Ltd.

Commenting on the plans, BPI Director of Independent Member Services Julian Wall told CMU: "British Music Week is now well-known within the German music industry calendar, and provides a great focal point for international promotions - particularly for the independent labels for whom the market is a good place to expand international sales. Having got the event off the ground, we are now in a position to let our partners in Germany take over the running of the event and move it up to the next level. The BPI will remain very much be part of that process through the British Music Week and we look forward to announcing the full plans for 2008".

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SINGLE REVIEW: Kings Have Long Arms featuring Candie Payne - Big Umbrella (Domino)
Kings Have Long Arms is Salford born/Sheffield resident pop maverick Adrian Flanagan, whose 2006 album 'I Rock Eye Pop' also pulled a fine trick with exciting guest vocalists, featuring as it did Mr Phil Oakey on 'Rock And Roll Is Dead', which was one of the finest pop tracks of the year, fact fans. Anyway, Candie Payne is a singer on Deltasonic who peddles 60s inspired soul/pop, which kind of makes her a proto Adele/Duffy, I guess. Put the two together and you get 'Big Umbrella' - a jaunty, shiny pop song that recalls Saint Etienne among others. If it was released a month ago, with some sleigh bells chucked on, it would have been a great Xmas pop song; without the festive context it has Summer Hit written all over it, which must be a recommendation considering we're stuck in boring old January. MS
Release date: 28 Jan
Press contact: Domino IH [all]

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EMI PUBS RE-SIGNS NORAH
Publishing news anyone? EMI Music Publishing has announced it is extending its relationship with Norah Jones - they having been Jones' publisher since 2002. Confirming Jones had re-signed to the publishing house, EMI Music Publishing boss Roger Faxon told reporters: "Norah Jones is one of the most talented and accomplished young songwriters and performers in the United States, with a long and illustrious career still ahead of her. Norah's songs have always resonated with music fans of all ages, and we are very proud to be able to extend our publishing relationship with her".

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MOBY AND FELIX SIGN TO STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL
Pan-European publishing indie Strictly Confidential last week announced it had signed Moby to a France/Benelux deal, and Felix Da Housecat to a worldwide (excluding US) deal. The company's MD, Piet Bekaert, said this: "We are very much looking forward to working with both Moby and Felix. Both are innovative writers and producers who, in their own way, have continually strived to reinvent both themselves and the electronic music scene as a whole".

Meanwhile, the indie's UK division announced it had signed Manchester-based singer songwriter Liz Green, winner of the Glastonbury festival's 2007 Emerging Talent Contest, to a long term exclusive publishing deal. On that, Strictly Confidential's UK GM Jo Hillier said: "I am proud to sign a writer of Liz Green's caliber and potential into the SC family. I think she is an amazing and unique talent, effortlessly combining the true spirit of folk and acoustic blues in both her writing and performance".

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WARNER FORTUNES NOSEDIVE - IS A TAKEOVER ON THE CARDS?
Much gossiping online in the last few days about the Warner Music Group, which has been fairing very badly on the New York Stock Exchange of late. The US based major's share price is down 50% since 1 Nov last year, while the company's current valuation is $738.64 million, which is pretty depressing considering it was valued at $4 billion a year ago.

The plummeting share price has led to speculation a takeover may be on the horizon, with Google, Amazon and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp being named as possible buyers.

Of course Warner chief Edgar Bronfman Jr, himself a major shareholder in the company, has so far resisted any talk of selling out, despite some commentators assuming he and/or his primary financial backers would look for a quick sell after buying the major off Time Warner in 2004.

Though with his dream of merging Warner with EMI to create a music firm en par with his previous creation, the Universal Music Group, now seemingly at an end perhaps he will be more open to offers. Though one would expect he'd rather first proceed with his diversification plans to transform Warner Music into one of those modern 360-degree music firms, and get any asking price back up to 2006 levels.

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MUSIC NAMES CAMEO AT CES
It's the good old Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, the annual bash where techy types get exciting about all the new gadgets on the horizon. CES has been dominated by digital music announcements in recent years, though that seems to be less so this year.

Nevertheless, Dr Dre brought a little rock n roll (or hop n hop I guess) to the proceedings by launching a new signature line of headphones there on Sunday. The 'Beats By Dr Dre' headphones have come about thanks to a collaboration between Dre, Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine and sound equipment outfit Monster Cable. I'm assuming you get some good quality beats if you shell out the $400 required to get a set. Here's what Dre says: "When I'm making a track, I'm trying to capture the sound that makes me go 'now that's the shit'. I want that reaction from everybody who hears it. I spend a lot of time in the studio listening to my music through headphones. With 'Beats' people are finally going to hear it the way they should, the way I do".

Also bringing some rock n roll to the proceedings was Slash, who joined that top rocker Bill Gates on stage during his keynote address, seemingly to illustrate the next generation of the 'Guitar Hero' game. Presumably that means Slash only ever pretends to be himself on an X-Box.

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LIVE NATION TICKETING ANNOUNCEMENT EXPECTED
Live Nation have called a press tele-conference for later this week, seemingly to make a major announcement regarding the live music conglom's plans in the ticketing domain. The venue owner and tour promoter has already indicated it plans to end its long term partnership with TicketMaster, which expires next year, and many expect this week's announcement to give an indication of what will replace that deal.

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PANDORA TO BLOCK NON-AMERICANS
Streaming music service Pandora will be introducing IP address checks to stop non-US users from accessing the service later this month. The popular service has so far failed to gain licences to operate outside the US, and has always been officially an 'America-only' service. However, to date it has simply asked users to provide an American postcode in order to prove they are US based, and as anyone can make one of these up, it continues to be used widely outside America. However, from 15 Jan it will become more strict on access to fall in line with record company demands. So if you're a Pandora fan in the UK, you've got until 15 Jan to get your fill.

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GCAP SHARES BOOM AFTER TAKEOVER OFFER
Shares in radio giant GCap rocketed yesterday after it confirmed it had received a takeover offer from young rival Global Radio, though it added that it had knocked back the offer on the basis the 190p per share offered was a "significant" undervaluation, even though it was more than the 179p the company's share price reached after yesterday's boost. The takeover offer preceded the arrival of new GCap CEO Fru Hazlitt last month, and any further takeover approaches, from Global or otherwise, are unlikely to be made before she reveals her plans for the company. Still, the temporary boost was nice for a company whose share price has struggled for a while now. Global, which launched last year by acquiring Chrysalis Radio's assets, are known to be keen to further expand, and having missed out on EMAP's radio stations, which were sold to German media firm H Bauer last month, GCap is an obvious target.

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CAPITAL REUNITE JOHNNY AND DENISE
Talking of GCap, the radio firm's flagship London station, Capital Radio, is rumoured to be considering regaining lost ground on its peak time breakfast slot by bringing together a former power couple of breakfast television.

As previously reported, Capital's former market leading breakfast show has struggled ever since the departure of Chris Tarrant, with formerly axed Capital DJ Neil Fox, now at rival Magic, gaining the title of most listened to breakfast show on commercial radio in London in recent listening figures. But Capital are reportedly hoping to regain ground by regrouping their breakfast host, Johnny Vaughan, with his former Big Breakfast co-host Denise Van Outen. Vaughan and Van Outen's tenure on the Channel 4 morning programme has long been held as the former TV show's golden age.

According to the Mail On Sunday, Van Outen's people are close to completing a deal with the station to become the new co-presenter on Capital's breakfast show. If the reports are true, the move could well deliver the shot in the arm recently appointed Capital Radio chief Paul Jackson is looking for.

The Guardian yesterday recalled the comments made by one critic after Van Outen guested on the Vaughan show recently to promote the musical Rent, who observed: "Ms van Outen could have been mistaken for its presenter, soon putting Vaughan in his place, staying nearly an hour longer than her allotted time and bringing back the Big Breakfast banter. A simple strategy for a new chief executive to adopt".

Capital are yet to formerly comment on the rumours.

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BLAKE JEALOUS OF WINEHOUSE'S HOLIDAY
According to the Daily Star, Amy Winehouse has had to play down how much she enjoyed her recent previously reported Caribbean holiday so that incarcerated husband Blake Fielder-Civil wouldn't get too jealous - especially because Winehouse took an ex-boyfriend, George Roberts, with her. A source told the tab: "Amy loved having George on holiday with her. But she has been speaking to Blake when she can and making out that she has not been having a good time. She doesn't want to rub it in that she's having fun while Blake's in a cell. But the truth is, Amy and George have been having a blast. They had a very passionate love affair in the past and are still very close. He [Blake] is mad that Amy has been out with George as he feels quite threatened by their close friendship".

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GATES CAREER ON ICE?
So, how do we all think that Gareth Gates recent attempt at a musical comeback went? Well, given that he's just been announced as a contestant on the new series of ITV1's 'Dancing On Ice', I'm guessing it wasn't a record breaking success. He will join soap actors Linda Lusardi and Chris Fountain, TV presenters Michael Underwood, Tim Vincent, Aggie Mackenzie and Natalie Pinkham, sports stars Greg Rusedski and Steve Backley and fellow former pop stars Suzanne Shaw (of Hear'Say) and Samantha Mumba on the reality show, which kicks off on Sunday.

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