CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 16th January
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- More EMI shenanigans
- Apple launch movie on demand service
- Hawthorne Heights v Victory squabble continues
- Very complicated Chamillionaire litigation
- Lennox not dropped, OK?
- File leaves UNKLE
- Rolling Stone Wood recovering from hernia op
- Kershaw jailed over restraining order breach
- Grammys look for WGA agreement
- Britney penned suicide note
- Amy considering Hanukkah album
- Prince covers album planned
- Rock types back Barack
- Pizzorno on new Kasabian
- Macca plans Linda photo exhibition
- Does It Offend You tracklisting
- Album Review: The Duke Spirit - Neptune
- Ticketmaster buy TicketsNow
- Lots of people iPlay with the Beeb
- Editors on the Brits


Hey everyone, we've not done this for a while, let's recommend a must-go night for your diaries shall we? Well, for the diaries of those of you in London. We really do need to start recommending events outside the M25 - I'm working on that.

Meantime, a fine night within the Circle Line - the next edition of the very fine, very CMU Recommended Twisted Licks, which takes place at the 229 venue on Great Portland Street on Friday 8 Feb. And this time we have Blood Red Shoes heading the live bill, supported by Lovvers and Davey La plus DJ action from that Slim Jim fella. A brilliant line up.

Tickets are £6 before 10pm, £8 after - or £6 all night for students. For full info check, unless you're a press type, in which case get directly in touch with Leyline for the lowdown.



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DJ impresario A-Trak is a hotbed of connections, from being Kanye West's DJ and brother of Chromeo lead singer and guitarist David Macklovitch, to playing some of the best clubs in the world with contemporaries like Kavinsky and DJ Mehdi. Indeed, it is with the latter that he shares many a similarity, with his remix of Digitalism's 'Idealistic' a track that could sit happily on any Ed Banger mix cd. He doesn't rest on his laurels there though, and his 'Stronger' remix is definitely one of my favourite mixes of 2007, a funkier version of the already floor-killing single. Visit his MySpace to check out this and more; you'll soon understand why he won the DMC turntablism championships at the tender age of 15, the youngest winner in history.


Do you know, after yesterday I'm all EMIed out, but there's a bunch of EMI related stories that it would perhaps be negligent of us to ignore this morning.

All of this, of course, follows the formal announcement by EMI chief Guy Hands yesterday that he will slash back the major's workforce and roster by merging labels and creating one uber sales and marketing division. A severe but ultimately old school solution to fixing a struggling record company, though Hands continues to hint at the possibility of some innovations to turn round the firm's fortunes also, part of his bid to make the London based major "the world's most innovative, artist friendly and consumer-focused music company". To that end he spoke yesterday of "developing a new partnership with artists", suggesting "enhanced digital services" and "corporate sponsorship arrangements" as new areas where EMI may look to work with its artists

In an official statement on the matter the major highlighted four changes in particular: first the repositioning of EMI's labels to ensure they are completely focussed on A&R and maximise the potential of artists; second the bringing together of all the group's key support activities including sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution into a single division with a unified global leadership; third, the elimination of significant duplications within the group to simplify processes and reduce waste; and finally that developing new partnerships with artists thing, partnerships that will be "based on transparency and trust, and helping all artists monetise the value of their work by opening new income streams such as enhanced digital services and corporate sponsorship arrangements".

As for the roster cull, well, few details, except indications that we can expect many bands to be dropped. Hands told reporters it was "not sustainable" to maintain the company's current roster which, he says, includes some 14,000 artists globally. He said that the Terra Firma team's analysis of EMI's recent affairs has shown that new releases over all have lost money. The solution - get rid of consistently underperforming bands, and moving forward be more tactical in new signings, taking less risks, and moving away from the traditional major label approach of signing ten bands hoping one makes it big (though that latter point may, of course, be easier said than done).

As for jobs cull which, as reported yesterday, could surpass 2000, Hands said the new regime would conduct the downsizing in a transparent and fair way, though I don't know whether that provides any comfort to those facing the axe. Hands says: "Unfortunately in the past, the restructurings that have been done within EMI have not been seen as fair. This time we are determined to conduct the selection of who stays with fairness, honesty and respect for everyone as an individual. We will not be asking people to reapply for their jobs in a formal way". Again specifics of the jobs cuts are yet to confirmed, though, as previously reported, few are expected to come from EMI Music Publishing which is likely to carry on operating as normal. Music Week says sources have said UK EMIers should expect significant cuts over here, with up to a third of the jobs to go possibly within the UK division.

Before the cuts, one more senior player at EMI UK has reportedly left the major - Barney Wragg, who has led the firm's digital operations since 2006. Wragg's departure is not part of the 2000 jobs cull, and, in fact, word has it Terra Firma were keen to hold on to him, given the growing importance of digital in the music space, Wragg's definite credentials in this department, and his key involvement in EMI's popular move into DRM-free last year. However, according to Billboard, the new EMI top guard saw Wragg in an operational role at the head of its digital division, where as he was looking for a more strategic role. With far too much else to comment on, there has been no comment on this particular bit of news by EMI or Hands.

Finally in this department, the recently reunited The Verve are the latest band to express their concern at all the EMI shenanigans - or, rather, their manager Jazz Summers is. Like Robbie Williams management, Summers, another seasoned music manager, has said he is nervous of releasing The Verve's much anticipated comeback album through EMI while there is such turmoil. Now that Hands is actually talking a little more about strategy rather than just slagging everyone off, it will be interesting to see if the managers of the major's biggest artists - so far frustrated at being in the dark about the major's future - will be in anyway placated.


Another heavy weight in the modern music business was talking about streamlining yesterday, though streamlining in the sense of making laptops thinner rather than firing everyone. Steve Jobs took to the stage at the Macworld conference in San Francisco yesterday and announced the launch of the 'Air', a new "ultra-sleek laptop". As is always the case when Jobs appears at these kinds of events, the geeks of the world listened in intently, though after several years of music devices dominating the headlines at Mac events, motherboards and LED monitors were the main news once more.

On the entertainment front, Jobs did announce a string of changes in the Apple TV domain. Admitting his company's attempts to bring web-TV to people's television sets had not been as good as originally hoped, he said that Apple's set-top box would become self-sufficient (before it was linked to iTunes on a PC), and promised to provide Apple TV users with lots and lots of content, including access to a big catalogue of movies and TV shows available to watch on demand via the service on a pay-per-view basis. Deals are in place with numerous studios for the digital movie rental service, though films will go online a month after DVD release, which may prove to be a weakness among impatient film fans.

Back to the iPod, or more precisely the iPhone, and Jobs revealed that Apple sold 4 million of the mobile/iPod hybrids in the first 200 days it was on the market. He didn't comment on plans to launch the Apple phone in China, though as the Macworld conference took place there were reports the IT firm's negotiations with China Mobile Communications, who had been expected to launch the device there, had come to a halt, most likely over various controls Apple have insisted on with their tel co partners elsewhere in the world.


Back to EMI, and no comment from Guy Hands on what his opinion is of helping platinum selling bands get out of legal commitments to independent labels so they can sign to the major. But that's what Victory Records are claiming EMI's Virgin US division did in a bid to add emo-stars Hawthorne Heights to their roster.

This is part of the ongoing and much previously reported fall out between Victory and one of their biggest artists, the Heights. As previously reported, the emo band fell out with their label in 2006 and began efforts to get out of their contract with the indie. They cited various allegations of breach of contract on the label's part as being behind their moves to get out of their commitments to Victory, but the indie claimed their motivation was simply to free themselves to enter into a new lucrative contract with Virgin.

While legal wranglings between the band and Victory rumble on, the indie has also accused EMI directly of inappropriately interfering in their contractual relationship with the band. They claim the major paid the band an advance that was used to fund their legal action against Victory, and that they helped the emo types find legal representation. That, the indie says, was "willful, wanton and deliberate conduct".

Victory this week confirmed it was suing Virgin over the whole thing, though I seem to remember they said the same thing back in November 2006, and I'm not sure whether this is the same litigation. Either way, the lawsuit filed at the New York courts this month seeks $10 million in compensation and $25 million in punitive damages. Which won't help Guy Hands' aim for a more healthy bottom line should the major lose the case.

The squabble has left Hawthorne Heights' recording career somewhat on hiatus - given that they owe the indie labeltwo albums and have been unable to persuade the courts to have that contract declared void, meaning they can't release anything via Virgin. Then, of course, the band have had to deal more recently with the sudden death of guitarist Casey Calvert back in November.

EMI types, again too busy commenting on other matters, are yet to comment on the latest Hawthorne Heights litigation.


Elsewhere in the pop courts, rap star Chamillionaire and his company Chamilitary Inc have launched litigation against a Philadelphia based producer called Dave MG, though this is very complicated, so I'd skip onto the next story unless you're willing to concentrate very hard.

This dispute is all over a song called 'You Must Be Crazy', which appeared on Chamillionaire's 'Ultimate Victory' album last year. On that long player producer Dave MG, real name David Burke, is credited as composer of the track.

However, another producer, Jomar Dogue, who also goes by the modest name of Jomeezius The Genius, subsequently alleged he composed the track, and threatened legal action to have distribution of the Chamillionaire song halted.

Chamillionaire's people decided to settle with Dogue's people to avoid that action, essentially accepting his claims to the track. Chamilitary Inc consulted Dave MG's management company, Static Management, about their dealings with Dogue, and seemingly had their approval to settle.

However, Dave MG himself seems to have taken offence at Chamillionaire's people settling with Dogue, saying that in doing so they have impacted on his rights. He last week threatened to sue, claiming that Chamilitary had taken actions that "disregarded his rights", and adding that Static had not been in a position to represent him on the issue.

Which brings us up to Chamillionaire's lawsuit, filed this week, which, according to, has requested a jury trial to determine the rights and obligations of everyone involved, Chamilitary presumably not really caring who has the composition rights to the song as long as they don't fall foul of any legal action in relation to it. The court documents don't do much to support Dave MG's case, claiming he was given an opportunity to participate in the settlement negotiations with Dogue, or to make a deal with the rival producer directly, but chose not to take those opportunities up.


OK, own up, who's been saying that SonyBMG have dropped Annie Lennox? Was it you? Oh, no, it was the Daily Mirror. Well they've not dropped her. Actually, they couldn't have even if they wanted to, because her most recent recording contract with them reached its conclusion with last year's 'Songs of Mass Destruction'. They could not re-sign her, I suppose, but the major has said it would very much like to continue collaborating with the former Eurythmic, despite the aforementioned 'SOMD' not selling quite as well as her former solo efforts.

In a statement issued shortly after the Mirror story surfaced, the major said: "[We want] to set the record straight on [our] relationship with Annie Lennox following a ludicrous report originating in the Daily Mirror that the artist had been dropped by her label. Sony BMG will continue to work with Annie on her current album as well as on her SING project in support of HIV AIDS sufferers". SonyBMG UK boss Ged Doherty added: "We are immensely proud to have worked with Annie over more than two decades. She now has a choice as to whether she wants to continue to work with us in the future. We very much hope that she will".

The Mirror story possibly came about because of a blog posting on Lennox's website where she bitched about promotions staff at the major's South African division, coupled with the fact she is currently sans recording contract. But Annie herself says the journalists have seriously misinterpreted what she wrote.

In a new blog entry yesterday she wrote: "An article has been published in today's Daily Mirror stating that I'd been 'dumped' by SonyBMG. As you know, this is completely untrue. My recording contract with the company has simply expired. They [the Mirror] obviously have been reading my blogs, but have completely misinterpreted and misreported what I've written. I was referring to being totally let down by the South African branch of Sony BMG who completely disappeared, when I came to perform for the 46664 campaign in Johannesburg. [But] I complimented the Norwegian company, who were absolutely great... as were the representatives from Italy and France. I had a meeting with Ged Doherty, the head of UK Sony BMG this afternoon, who was absolutely mortified by the piece. The paper will be publishing a retraction tomorrow".


Richard File is parting company with James Lavelle, meaning the latter has recruited a fourth partner to collaborate with under the UNKLE moniker. If that makes sense. File has been the other half of UNKLE single 2001, when he replaced DJ Shadow who had previously replaced Tim Goldsworthy. But he has split from Lavelle to concentrate on other projects, in particular We Fell To Earth, who are currently working on a debut album. Lavelle will reportedly now work on UNKLE projects with Joel Cadbury from the rather fine South, who were once signed to Lavelle's Mo Wax label, of course. Cadbury will join Lavelle on stage at UNKLE's upcoming live dates, which include sets at Australia's Big Day Out festivals.


Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood is recovering following a hernia operation, his spokeswoman announced yesterday. The rocker has been told he needs to rest for two months after the surgery, which took place last week, though the spokeswoman added: "Knowing Ronnie, he'll be back on his feet sooner rather than later". Wood reportedly discovered he needed the operation while on the Stones' recent Bigger Bang tour, but delayed surgery until after Christmas.


Radio presenter Andy Kershaw has been jailed for three months following those previously reported incidents where he broke a restraining order that prevented him from contacting his former partner. Kershaw pleaded guilty to the offence at the High Baliff's Court on the Isle Of Man, where he and his ex both live. Passing the sentence, High Bailiff Michael Moyle told the BBC DJ he seemed "hell-bent" on destroying himself. He added: "I regret that I feel I have no obligation other than to impose custody". The restraining order will also stay in place. Kershaw has already spent a few days in jail in relation to the case - he was jailed late last year after breaking a court enforced curfew. Kershaw blames his actions on alcohol dependency, something he says he is trying to fight.


Organisers of the Grammy Awards have requested an agreement from the Writers' Guild Of America which would give them the green light to go ahead with this year's awards bash on 10 Feb.

Technically speaking the Grammy's have no contract with the Guild so, unlike last week's Golden Globes, are less likely to fall foul to the ongoing writers strike that has been crippling Hollywood. But Grammy producers Cossette Productions is on a list of companies the Guild claims to be off limits, and fears have risen that writers will picket the event, due to take place in LA on 10 Feb, and that union-friendly artists would not feel able to attend, even if they are nominated.

A spokesman for the WGA had previously said the Grammys would be 'beneath the radar' of the strike, but following the cancellation of the Golden Globes last week and growing speculation as to whether next month's Oscars will not go ahead, it seems organisers of the US's flagship music awards don't want to leave anything to chance.

The boss of The US Recording Academy, that stages the awards, yesterday said they were looking to enter into an agreement with the WGA similar to that signed with David Letterman's production company Worldwide Pants, which has allowed the two Letterman produced US talk shows to return to the air with Guild support. RA CEO Neil Portnow told reporters: "[The agreement] would both allow the talented writers for the show to be compensated fairly for their valuable services and allow us to demonstrate support for the creative community of writers in a tangible and meaningful way".

The Guild said it was considered the Recording Academy's request. As previously reported, the Guild's members are striking over disagreements regarding writer royalty payments in the digital age.


Word has it that Britney Spears wrote a suicide note just days before her much reported stand-off with police where she refused to hand over her two sons to representatives of her ex Kevin Federline, who has primary (and now complete) custody of the children. US magazine In Touch Weekly claims Spears' longterm friend Sam Lutfi found the note at the singer's home a few days before the stand off. A source told the mag: "The letter was very sad. It was filled with reasons why she shouldn't live and included lines from poems about death. She [Spears] said in it she was sorry for never making her life what everyone else wanted. She mentioned how lonely and unfair life could be, how peaceful death seems and how your mind would finally be at ease. She went on and on about wanting to just rest in peace".


Mark Ronson has revealed that during recent discussions with Amy Winehouse about a follow up to 'Back To Black', a Christmas album with songs aimed at the Jewish community was considered. Ronson says that while Amy was possibly joking about releasing a musical tribute to her Jewish roots, he thinks it's a good idea.

Ronson told Rolling Stone magazine, "We're talking about making a holiday record, with Christmas songs on one side and Hanukkah songs on the other. She's got songs called, like, 'Kosher Kisses' and 'Alone Under The Mistletoe'. She was kind of fucking around, but I was like, 'You have all these amazing records to play for Christmas, like Motown and Carla Thomas and the Charlie Brown Christmas, and unfortunately, us Jews have nothing that cool to listen to. So we should do something'".

The producer added that, despite all of Winehouse's recent personal woes, the singer has been penning new songs for a third album, and that he hopes to join her in the studio later this year to put some of them down. Ronson: "She's writing songs, and we talked about getting a studio. I have to finish a few other things first, but I imagine we'll go into the studio this year".


Details of a new Prince song covers album have been released. 'Controversy - A Tribute To Prince' will be released on 4 Feb and include the following...

D'Angelo - She's Always In My Hair
Stina Nordenstam - Purple Rain
Blue States - Alphabet Street
Susanna & The Magical Orchestra - Condition Of The Heart
Osunlade - Crazy You
Hefner - Controversy
The Dynamics - Girls & Boys
Broadway Project feat. Jeb Loy Nichols - The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker
Hurtz feat Peaches - Sexy Dancer
Soulwax - Starfish & Coffee
Rob Mello - Critical
LB - The Future
Kode 9 & Space Ape - Sine Of The Dub


Back to politics, and the rock kids are throwing their support behind Barack Obama, who, as I'm sure you all know, is currently competing with Hillary Clinton to be the Democrat candidate in this year's US presidential elections.

First up, Arcade Fire's Win Butler who, despite fronting a Canadian band, is American so is allowed an opinion on these matters. He has criticised Clinton's victory speech at the recent New Hampshire primary (where she gained some ground over Obama who is currently ahead in the bid for the Democrat candidacy). Recalling how "a bunch of college kids" were brought on stage, and how daughter Chelsea was then brought in "for a long awkward hug", Butler says: "Does anyone actually buy it? Surely young people are too media savvy to be fooled by this kind of shit. Do we live in a democracy so we can just keep electing the same families?" He continued: "Barack is the first candidate in my lifetime to strip some of this bullshit away, and I just hope we don't blow this chance".

But more importantly, what does Fall Out Boy Pete Wentz think, that's what you want to know right? Well, he's on Barack's side too. He says: "I've been an Obama supporter from day one. After watching the New Hampshire primary, I couldn't just be an observer anymore - I had to act. Barack is the first politician who's ever made me feel like our voices actually matter".


Kasabian's Serge Pizzorno has been talking to Radio 1 about preparations for his band's third album, revealing they were "just cracking on with it now". He added: "We're sort of in the process. I don't really know when it's going to be released, but as soon as we think it's ready it'll be out. It's psychedelic this one, it's going to open your mind". He added that 'Fast Fuse', which came out as a limited edition single, will feature on the new long player, adding: "We've had thousands of people saying we want it on the album, we want it on the album, so it's going to go on". I wonder if they really have had thousands of people saying that.


An exhibition of photos taken by Linda McCartney will go on display later this year at the London gallery run by James Hyman (the art guy, not the former Xfm DJ). The show has been initiated by Paul McCartney to mark the tenth anniversary of his late wife's death. He said in a statement: "James Hyman, my daughter Mary, and I have worked on it now for three years, and the result is a sensitive selection of works that really demonstrates Linda's prodigious output as a photographer". The exhibition will include photos from the McCartney family as well as candid shots of the likes of Mick Jagger, John Lennon and Jim Morrison.


Tracklisting anyone? How about a tracklisting for the debut album from the fabulous Does It Offend You, Yeah?, which is out on 17 Mar on Virgin, unless EMI chief Guy Hands does take offence and drops them as part of his up coming roster cull. One would assume not, though the long player could have been titled in the new chief's honour - 'You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into'. Anyway, here's the tracklisting.

Battle Royale
With A Heavy Heart (I Regret To Inform You)
We Are Rockstars
Dawn Of The Dead
Doomed Now
60 Ft Octopus
Lets Make Out
Being Bad Feels Pretty Good
Weird Science


ALBUM REVIEW: The Duke Spirit - Neptune (You Are Here)
The second album from garage rockers The Duke Spirit is bathed in Americana, unsurprisingly perhaps for a band who have toured extensively in the States and who recorded this record in the depths of Southern California at the Rancho de la Luna studios. It's produced by Chris Goss, whose work with Queens Of The Stone Age has made him something of a hero in stoner rock circles (fyi - apparently Josh Homme is a Duke Spirit fan). Lead singer Leila Moss has a great look and attitude, seemingly made for stardom, but strangely the band haven't really had the success that they deserve in this country so far. Anyway, to the music, and after the introduction 'Send A Little Love Token' rushes in, jangly of guitar and mournful of vocal, with a nice piano line that kind of gives you what you are going to get for the rest of the album. Not that I'm complaining because the songs contained are strong. 'The Step And The Walk', taken as a single to precede this release, has a great melodic hook to go along with the lush harmonic backing vocals and the jagged guitars; while 'Dog Roses' is more downtempo but equally infectious. This and 'Lassoo' were both released on the 'Ex Voto EP' last year and are two of the stand out tracks, although 'You Really Wake Up The Love In Me' is a good example of Moss's vocal range, swinging between yearning and yelping with nary a thought. There is nothing unexpected here, no real breaking of moulds, but it is a good solid rock record and you can't say fairer than that. IM
Release date: 4 Feb
Press contact: Darling Department [all]


Another interesting development in the often controversial world of secondary ticketing. Primary ticket seller Ticketmaster has bought TicketsNow, a leading ticket resale marketplace in the US, and the company behind online ticket sale software used by many secondary sellers.

Ticketmaster will acquire the firm in a $265 million deal. TicketsNow will continue to operate pretty autonomously after the deal, with much of its current management team expected to stay in place. The acquisition will require regulatory approval but, according to Billboard, Ticketmaster say they hope to have everthing completed by the end of March.

The deal comes at the start of what is expected to be an interesting year in the mad world of event ticketing - in which Live Nation's previously reported move into the domain is expected to have a significant impact on the market, plus the debate over the rights and wrongs of the resale of tickets by agencies or individual touts is sure to become even more heated.


The BBC has announced that some 3.5 million programmes have been accessed via its iPlayer service since its official launch on Christmas Day which is quite a lot, though I might personally account for about a million of that number, I've become quite a fan of the Beeb's on-demand web-TV platform.

The BBC's Director Of Future Media And Technology, Ashley Highfield, said this: "We are delighted with the public's response to the BBC iPlayer. Attracting a million visitors, who've accessed over three and a half million programmes, within just two weeks is a wonderful start. Typically, people who use the BBC iPlayer are spending nearly half an hour a day watching streams of their favourite programmes, suggesting that it looks set to revolutionise the way BBC Television programmes are viewed in the UK. Significantly, while the BBC iPlayer allows the public to catch up on their favourite mainstream BBC shows, it is also encouraging to see that nearly half of all programmes streamed or downloaded are placed outside the top 50, demonstrating how on demand services can bring niche programming to a wider audience".

Obviously demand will increase today when you all go online to watch yesterday's edition of 'World Business Report' in the news section to see me talking about EMI. I mean, I got up at 5am to do it, the least you could do is watch it.


So, do Editors think they'll take the Best British Group prize at the Brit Awards having been nominated on Monday night? Well, here's what guitarist Chris Urbanowicz told Gigwise at the nominations party: "We've got one more [nomination] than Craig David this year, so that's good, but we're not going to win. We're up against Girls Aloud, Kaiser Chiefs, Muse and Take That, roll the credits!"

Asked about Paul McCartney's lifetime achievement Brit, he continued: "I've only heard the 'Frog Song' from his solo material, and that's pretty good. I'd probably rate it nine out of ten - great video and it generally challenges 'The White Album' as a whole. If there was one single that could challenge one album, then it would probably be The Frog Song versus The White Album".

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