CMU Daily - on the inside Tuesday 29th January
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Hey Mr ISP, do us a favour - ISP pressure mounts at MIDEM
- Ruling on Spain's Telefonica P2P case expected
- Swedish prosecutors prepare to charge Pirate Bay
- Much chatter over QTRAX false start
- ERA launch digital bit
- Arctic Monkeys lead NME nominations
- Shortlist shortlist announced
- Writer's Guild give Grammys formal go ahead
- UB40 drummer critical of Campbell's comments
- Fielder-Civil's fears for Amy
- Doherty no-gig news
- Statement on Morrissey gig cancellations
- Jacko on new Thriller album
- Trick Trick on Eminem
- Foals on stuff
- Page says Zep are ready for a tour
- Judas Priest for Download?
- Liverpool Sound City to launch next month
- High School Musical musical
- Nick Cave And Bad Seeds tour
- The Sonics play first UK show
- Beyonce to play Etta
- McGuinness airs caution re the majors' new revenue streams
- 7Digital announce new funding for global expansion
- IMPALA reveal new top team and main goals
- Merlin gets moving
- BBC Worldwide appoint former EMAPer to lead music projects
- BACS launch recordings venture with Orchard
- Universal Publishing announce pan-European licence
- Peermusic do the same
- Sony/ATV recruit Gerson
- Atlantic relaunch Asylum in UK
- Junior promoted at Emms
- Vanessa Paradis accused of miming at NRJ awards
- How The Strokes' arse album cover came about
- Katona on rehab and being snubbed
- NME award nominations in full


So, we seem to be moving into phase three of what I like to call the P2P War. Time for a recap methinks.

It all began with Napster really. In the early days of P2P, when Napster was king, most of the record companies' legal efforts against the growing trend of kids illegally sharing music files over the net was aimed at the companies (or other kids) who developed and distributed the P2P software which enabled the sharing. The software firms, the record companies argued, were guilty of so called authorising copyright infringement (or whatever such infringement was called in each different jurisdiction).

Most P2P makers pleaded the Betamax defence (what you might prefer to call the Amstrad defence in the UK) - that because their software had legitimate uses (the sharing of music by unsigned bands), because they didn't officially condone illegal sharing, and because they couldn't control how punters used their technology, they couldn't be held liable for the copyright infringement they enabled (in the same way Sony Corp couldn't be held liable for the piracy their Betamax video recorders had enabled back in the day, or Amstrad could be held liable for the piracy their tape-to-tape cassette recorders enabled back in the eighties).

The defence worked for a time - less so for Napster whose central database made it hard for them to say they couldn't control the distribution of music through their network - but definitely for the Groksters and Kazaas of this world. But it only worked for a time. Slowly key court rulings - especially in the US and Australia - started to work in the record companies' favour - the P2P companies could not, the judges say, rely on the Betamax principle.

Which was all well and good, except that by the time the court wins came through, the kids were already file sharing via a new route. By the time Napster was sued out of business they were using Grokster; Grokster goes, but they're all using Kazaa; they are forced into line, and everyone's onto LimeWire. The lawsuit against LimeWire is ongoing, but already the BitTorrent tracker communities are superseding the old school P2P tools for directing web users to pirated content.

Either way, the authorising infringement lawsuits, while ultimately successful, were proving pretty unsatisfactory in terms of curbing illegal file sharing. And so we entered phase two of the legal challenge. Suing individuals for direct copyright infringement.

Success rates here vary from country to country, both in forcing ISPs to reveal the identities of suspected file sharers, and then in successfully suing those sharers. As reported in today's Daily, the Spanish courts aren't proving very helpful at all. And even in those jurisdictions where the concept of suing individuals for online file sharing wasn't deemed controversial or outside the remit of existing copyright law, this kind of litigation was problematic.

First, the lawsuits were invariably bureaucratic - often involving drawn out processes, like the two lawsuit system in the US (a John Doe suit followed by a main action). Plus there's always the tricky PR issue of major record companies being seen to sue their customers - the grass roots music fan. Sensible record label trade bodies (ie not the RIAA) limited the number of actions in this domain, aiming to use a handful of successful lawsuits to grab the headlines and remind the public file sharing was illegal. A good idea though, unfortunately, P2P usage has been hardly affected by the lawsuits, even in the US where hundreds are launched every month.

Given that suing every single person who has ever file shared is not really an option, the record companies have slowly edged towards phase three. Making the internet service providers take responsibility for the violation of copyright committed by their customers using their servers. The ISPs have made it pretty clear from the word go that that is a role they are unwilling to take, officially because doing so would violate privacy laws, though conspiracy theorists point out that a big motivating factor for people to buy broadband services, certainly until recently, was for high-speed P2P file sharing, and that the ISPs therefore had a commercial reason for turning a blind eye to copyright violation, and to refuse to sidestep privacy constraints for copyright crimes, even though they did for other online criminal activity.

The record companies (and, increasingly, the movie companies too) have for a while been of the opinion governments need to act to force ISPs to take a policing role in terms of copyright infringement online. There is some political support for the content owners, but those supporters have to date urged some kind of voluntary deal between the labels and ISPs. I don't think the majors have ever believed such a deal is possible, but they paid lip service to behind the scenes negotiations, to satisfy political types. With no deal reached, the wider music industry is now keen to make 2008 the year they really take on the ISPs, through both PR and legal channels. That fight began with the IFPI's digital music report last week, and is continuing at MIDEM this week. Welcome to phase three of the P2P War.

Can the labels succeed? Hmm, good question. I'll Top Bit on that tomorrow.



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Former Komakino members return under this new moniker, seemingly creating simple, danceable new wave indie-pop type stuff, a swap from the 'Britrock' sound of their previous incarnation. And 'seemingly' it still is, because despite having created a Myspace profile, full website and a few other avenues of online access they still don't have any songs up. Bless YouTube therefore, for allowing them their very own video channel, where you can watch them demo new songs and unearth their creative potential in a studio diary. Otherwise, they start touring from February, passing through Nottingham, London, Stoke, Manchester, and that hub of all things musical, Wakefield.


Yep, I think it is fair to say we are now in phase three of the P2P war - 2008 will be the year when the record industry will try, once and for all, to force the internet service providers to take on more responsibility for policing the ether, blocking the distribution of unlicensed content, and cutting off the people who consistently do the distributing.

As previously reported, the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry made that mission the overriding theme of its digital music report last week, and there has been more tough talking with regard to the ISPs this week down in Cannes where the MIDEM music business convention is now well and truly under way.

Firstly the UK record industry trade body, the BPI, used MIDEM to again call on the ISPs to play ball. Echoing his comments in response to the IFPI report last week, but with ever increasing frustration in his words, BPI chief Geoff Taylor said yesterday: "For years, access to free music has helped to drive ISPs' businesses while they have paid nothing to the creators of that music, and done nothing to help address rampant piracy on their networks. Their wilful blindness is causing tremendous harm to British music, and the music sector, with support from Government, is united in the conviction that the situation must change".

Commenting on the long running behind the scenes negotiations between the music industry and the ISPs, he continued: "For more than a year, we have been negotiating with the [ISPs] to implement reasonable procedures under which they would advise customers if their account is being used to distribute music illegally, and then, if the advice is ignored, enforce their own terms and conditions about abuse of the account. But UK ISPs refuse to do even that on any meaningful scale. The music business wants to partner with ISPs to create new music services that would deliver even greater value for consumers, creators, and to ISPs. An internet that rewards creativity - while offering music lovers unprecedented choice and value for money - is in the long term interest of all of us. The time has come for ISPs to stop dragging their feet and start showing some responsibility, by taking reasonable steps to counter illegal music freeloading. Their failure to do so in until now is extraordinary - and it can't be allowed to go on".

Meanwhile, showing that frustration with the ISPs is not restricted to the recorded music sector, U2 manager Paul McGuinness used his MIDEM speech to talk tough on the issue. As the flagship speaker from the management community at MIDEM this year, McGuiness commanded a full house audience. He told them: "The ISP lobbyists who say they should not have to 'police the internet' are living in the past, relying on outdated excuses from an earlier technological age. The internet has moved on, and the pace of change today means a year in the internet age is equivalent to a decade in the non-internet world".

He continued: "Network operators, in particular, have for too long had a free ride on music - on our clients' content. It's time for a new approach - time for ISPs to start taking responsibility for the content they've profited from for years. I think the failure of ISPs to engage in the fight against piracy, to date, has been the single biggest failure in the digital music market. They are the gatekeepers with the technical means to make a far greater impact on mass copyright violation than the tens of thousands of lawsuits taken out against individual file-sharers by bodies like BPI, RIAA and IFPI. And the message to government is this: ISP responsibility is not a luxury for possible contemplation in the future. It is a necessity for implementation TODAY - by legislation if voluntary means fail".


All the tough talking about forcing the internet service providers to act to stop illegal file sharing tells us one thing for certain - P2P file sharing is still quite a hot topic in the digital music arena, and just in case further proof was required, there were a number of P2P stories doing the rounds yesterday.

Firstly, word has it the Spanish courts are due to rule on a long running legal dispute between Spain's record industry body, Promusicae, and internet service provider Telefonica. The former is trying to force the latter to reveal the identities of individuals who are accused of wide spread illegal file sharing - the record companies' monitoring of such sharing, of course, only revealing the IP address used by the file sharers. As much previously reported, the ISPs have always been generally unwilling to reveal the identities of file sharers unless forced to do so by the courts - generally citing privacy rules as their reason for resisting requests for such information.

The willingness of the courts to force the ISPs to reveal the identities of file sharers - even when the evidence of such file sharing is compelling - has varied greatly from country to country. Here in the UK the courts, providing the evidence stacks up, have generally demanded the ISPs reveal file sharers' identities - and have not treated doing so as being particularly controversial. In other countries, however, the courts have been less willing to help, often ruling that their native copyright laws - which normally predate the internet - are too ambiguous to enable such information exchange, especially in an environment where protecting the privacy of internet users is such a hot topic.

The Spanish courts have been among the least helpful in assisting with the record companies' attempts to target individual file sharers with litigation, at one point more or less saying that under Spain's current copyright laws individuals cannot be sued for illegally distributing content online at all. In the Telefonica case the Spanish court requested guidance from the European Courts as to whether European regulations demanded ISPs to hand over information in cases like that being pursued by Promusicae. In an advisory note last summer the European Court's Advocate General said, in civil cases like this one, no they didn't. It's with that note in mind that the Spanish court will make its judgement on the matter this week and, given the Advocate General's advice, it's expected that they will find in Telefonica's favour.

Doing so will mean various things. Firstly, for the Spanish music industry, who are suffering more than most from piracy and declining record sales, it will be bad news, essentially rendering them unable to take action against individual filesharers (certainly through civil litigation routes). Secondly, because of the European dimension to the case, some wonder whether such a ruling could be used as a legal argument in favour of ISPs in similar cases in other European Union countries, especially those where, unlike the UK, there is not an existing precedent that ISPs should be forced to reveal filesharers' identities in civil cases.

But, on a third level, success for Telefonica in this case may work to the wider record industry's benefit long term, given that many record companies are already beyond the 'suing individual filesharer' thing and concentrating their efforts on wider reforms to force ISPs to be more proactive in this domain. The record companies could argue, should Telefonica win, that this is another example of copyright law in a Western country simply not coping with the issues of internet piracy, and that it is further proof as to why new legislation is required, preferably at a European level, and preferably forcing ISPs to take on the policing role described by McGuinness in Cannes yesterday.


Elsewhere in the wacky world of P2P, and back to our old friends The Pirate Bay. Hurray. And word has it the Swedish authorities, supported by the music and movie industries, will this week stage their latest attempt to close down the infamous BitTorrent tracker, which provides members with links to illegal content sources.

This case is now very much a criminal one, with Sweden's Public Prosecutor Hakan Roswall seemingly willing to charge The Pirate Bay's owners for conspiring to break copyright law, and for being accessories to actual infringement. The charges are expected to be filed at a district court on Thursday. The charges, if proven, could lead to the tracker's management facing tough fines and two years in jail.

Needless to say, The Pirate Bay boys remain adamant the law is on their side, continuing to argue that, because they don't host any copyright content, they cannot be liable for any copyright crimes. Their spokesman told Reuters the legal action was "idiotic", adding "there is no legal ground" for the charges.

But Roswall seems just as resolute there is a case. He told Reuters: "[The Pirate Bay is] not merely a search engine. It's an active part of an action that aims at, and also leads to, making copyright protected material available. It's a classic example of accessory - to act as intermediary between people who commit crimes, whether it's in the physical or the virtual world".

As previously reported, there have been various attempts to close down The Pirate Bay before, none of which have been successful. Roswall admits that because the tracker service is hosted on servers around the world action in any one country may not be sufficient to close it down, though he hopes that by proceeding with criminal charges he may frighten advertisers and server owners into pulling their support for The Pirate Bay, which could in turn impact on their ability to operate.


And even more P2P, though of the legal kind this time. Well, sort of. Following that previously reported announcement by QTRAX at MIDEM this weekend that they were about to launch a fully licensed ad-funded P2P service providing access to 30 million tracks, there was formal confirmation from three of the majors yesterday that they are actually yet to reach a deal with the P2P firm.

As previously reported, QTRAX is one of those formerly illegal P2P outfits which is trying to launch a legal P2P service, funded by advertising and licenced by the record companies. There has been much talk about such legit P2P networks in recent years, but no one has really launched one yet.

QTRAX's announcement that it was to launch its legit P2P operation this week with major and indie label support suggested they would be the first legit file sharer to properly come to market, but yesterday's announcements from EMI, Universal and Warner have thrown much doubt on that claim, though all three majors admit negotiations are ongoing with the P2P firm, so a fully licenced QTRAX isn't a complete impossibility.

While QTRAX would make such a bold statement about its launch and content partners when key deals are not in place isn't clear. Billboard have been uncharacteristically critical of the company's launch, saying: "The inconsistencies with its music licensing status is just one of several missteps that may make QTRAX one of most bungled service launches in the history of digital music". It adds that the QTRAX press release implied a full launch this week, when actually it is a beta site that has gone live. Plus the P2P outfit has been vague on what limits there will be on music downloaded via the service, and also on its global expansion plans.

Billboard reckons that QTRAX may regret rushing to make a big splash at MIDEM, especially given that the music business convention has a relatively low profile among consumers. Announcing deals that have not been signed, they reckon, will piss off the record companies, while putting an unfinished service online to coincide with the MIDEM press conference may mean unhappy early adopter punters.

Whether these issues around QTRAX's launch will affect its long term success remains to be seen. Certainly I think it's fair to say the properly licenced P2P app - which QTRAX may or may not eventually become - is still to arrive to market.


Digital music of the definitely legit kind, and the Entertainment Retailers Association has announced the formation of a new division - ERA Digital - in recognition of the growing number of digital content retailers among its membership. The trade body hopes the new group will also persuade digital music operators who are currently not ERA members to join the fold, and they are busy promoting it to UK digital types at MIDEM this week.

Commenting on the division, Russel Coultart of London based etailer Digital Stores told reporters: "MIDEM is the ideal place to meet the key players in the digital music market. The launch of ERA Digital reflects both ERA's growing membership of digital retailers - alongside the digital operations of existing ERA members - but also the growing importance of digital revenues to the entertainment retail sector".

ERA Digital will have its first meeting back in London on 13 Feb.


So, those Arctic Monkeys still have it, it would seem. They have scored a record seven nominations in the NME Awards 2008 and, before you ask, no, none of them are in the negative categories. Among the shortlists on which the Monkeys appear are Best British Band, Best Album and Best Track. Having voted for the nominees, NME readers now have a second chance to vote, this time for overall winners. The gongs will be handed out at a London bash on 28 Feb. Full list of nominees is at the bottom of today's Daily.


The shortlist for the Shortlist prize (a sort of US version of the Mercury prize for those of you who've not been listening at the back) has been released and the likes of MIA, Wilco, Justice and Arcade Fire are on it. We'll find out next month who's won, but here in the meantime, are the artists and relevant albums that are in the running:

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Burial - Untrue
Feist - The Reminder
Justice - Cross
LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
MIA - Kala
Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
Working For A Nuclear Free City - Businessmen & Ghosts


The Writer's Guild Of America has agreed to an interim agreement with the producers of the upcoming Grammy Awards which will mean that union writers will be able to work on the show. The Guild, whose strike action caused the Golden Globes to be cancelled earlier this month, of course, had already said they would not picket the US music industry's big night out, and the agreement between the Guild and the US Recording Academy will further distance the Grammys event from the ongoing strike action.

Confirming a deal had been done, Recording Academy top bloke Neil Portnow said this: "The Recording Academy is gratified by the WGA's decision to grant the interim agreement we requested for our milestone 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Having our talented writers on the team further ensures the highest level of creativity and innovation, something our audience has come to expect every year. Music fans worldwide can look forward to an amazing lineup of artists and performances on February 10, making our 50th anniversary show one of the most memorable ever".


Ah, increasing tension in the UB40 camp then, their upcoming live shows should be fun. As previously reported, a spokesman for the band last week announced frontman Ali Campbell was quitting the band to pursue solo projects. He then issued his own statement saying he was quitting not because of solo ambitions but because of issues with the band's management. Said management denied those allegations, and now another UB40er has criticised Campbell for going public with his band issues. Drummer James Brown told reporters that he was "disappointed" that Campbell didn't keep disagreements within the band, and also that he had announced his departure via his solicitor. He told reporters: "You would think that after 30 years of working together as a family unit that you could at least talk through these issues". Well, there are upcoming gigs in Australia, New Zealand and Uganda that Campbell is still due to front, so there should be plenty of time for talking through those issues there. Should be fun.


The News Of The World have published 'private' letters from Blake Fielder-Civil to his mother Georgette, in which he speaks of his fears for wife Amy Winehouse and his hopes for their joint recovery. Fielder-Civil is afraid that the singer's drug habits will bring about her death: "Every day I fear the prison chaplain is going to walk into my cell and break the news that Amy is dead," he wrote, and urges the singer to "quit smoking crack or you'll be dead in three months".

Admitting that between the two of them they were spending as much as £500 a day on heroin and cocaine before he was locked up, Fielder-Civil claims now to be clean, and wants his wife to clean up her act too: "I'm disappointed that Amy has been taking crack and I'm pleased she got caught because at last she is going to get the help she deserves. I want Amy to grab this opportunity in rehab so we can have a marriage and future together. Because the way she's going I really fear I will come out of prison to no wife".


According to reports, the Fez in Reading recently announced that they were to host a solo gig by Pete Doherty on Wednesday but within hours of that announcement they announced that the gig had been cancelled already. The concert was to be the last event at the venue before it closed for refurbishment. Organisers said: "Due to factors out of our control, we unfortunately have had to cancel this event. We apologise for any inconvenience".


What's that? You want an official statement regarding Morrissey's decision to pull out of a gig at the Camden Roundhouse three songs in because of ill health, and the subsequent cancellation of two other Roundhouse shows? Well, never let it be said we don't deliver on these things. A Universal Music press release reads thus: "Morrissey's concerts scheduled for Saturday and Sunday night at The Roundhouse were postponed due to illness. The iconic artist lost his voice five songs in to the fourth night of a run of six sold out shows at the legendary venue. He has been ordered by doctors to rest for four days. The sold out UK tour is scheduled to continue in Doncaster on Wednesday night. All ticket holders to the Roundhouse dates should retain their tickets and an announcement will be made this week". I thank you.


Michael Jackson has been bigging up his new album, the previously reported 'Thriller: 25th Anniversary Edition', out 11 Feb, a re-recorded version of his seminal 1982 LP complete with remixes and featuring star turns, reportedly from the likes of Will.I.Am and Kanye West. Speaking to the NRJ awards via a video link at the weekend, he spoke of his comeback and of the anniversary album in glowing terms. The singer said: "There is a lot more to come from Michael Jackson. I'm coming back. And I've got a very special treat for all my fans. I have been recording 'Thriller: 25th Anniversary' with a lot of surprise guests".

Elsewhere in Jacko news, the rumour mill is rife with, er, rumour, that Michael Jackson will celebrate said anniversary with an appearance at the Grammy Awards on 10 Feb. The gossips are almost sure he'll be there; whether he'll actually perform or not is the question.


US rapper Trick Trick has spoken to MTV about Eminem's appearance on his new album 'The Villain'. Eminem is sort of reunited with Dre on this, because whilst Eminem performs vocals on 'Who Want It', Dre has produced the track 'Hold On'.

Trick Trick is full of praise for Eminem. At least, I think he is. To be honest, I couldn't really understand most of it, because you know what these hippedy hoppedy types are like. However, he thinks that Slim is still "the coldest that ever did it", and continued: "The game needs his album. He's rapping on 'Who Want It'. He's like, 'Who want it?' he's hanging out and these fucking idiots are always at it. If you want it, come get it. He ain't trying to do nothing but be Em. I'm being me. If you want it, I got ya. He's Em on there. He's going for it. Whoever wants some can come get it. Em produced and rapped on it".

Incidentally, Trick Trick says the rap superstar is not fat, okay, he's just a bit chubbier than he used to be. This is in response to reports over Christmas that Eminem had got obese of late. The rapper said: "He's nowhere 250 pounds or anything like that. He picked up a little weight. He ain't walkin' around obese or some shit though. He can still run two miles if you want him to and still out-box the majority of them. My man still gets down".


Foals spoke to on Sunday night about their roots and their new album following a 'secret' show in Oxford, at the venue where it all began for them. Frontman Yannis Philippakis explained: "Oxford's Cellar is where we started playing and the show's for our friends. We formed the band at the same time as the club night Abort, Retry, Fail started and it's where our friends hang out. We thought it'd be really nice to do one show here this year because we're going to be away a lot. The Oxford show's sold out and our friends would never bother buying tickets anyway, so the people tonight aren't the normal gig crowd".

The band showcased new material set to appear on upcoming LP 'Antidotes' set for release in March. Speaking about the new album, Philippakis continued: "We're excited to have other people hear it - hopefully they'll like it. It's been finished for a while so the songs aren't that fresh for us at the moment and we've been playing them a lot. We've started writing new stuff already so we're getting excited about that".


Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has hinted that following their one-off reunion at the O2 Arena in December the band are ready to do a full tour, but whether and when it will happen is dependent on frontman Robert Plant, who has solo stuff going on at the moment.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Page said: "I can assure you the amount of work that we put into the O2, for ourselves rehearsing and the staging of it was probably what you put into a world tour. Robert Plant has a parallel project running and he's really busy with that project. Certainly until September, so I can't give you any news".


There's a rumour going round that Judas Priest are set to play at Download this year, but this rumour seems to have a bit more weight than your average rumour because Virtual Festivals say Download organiser Andy Copping has hinted as much. Other names on the 'are they appearing?' list include AC/DC, Korn and Muse, but you'll just have to wait until there's an official announcement, frankly. One thing I do know is that the Download festival takes place at Donington, this year from 13 - 15 Jun.


Liverpool Sound City, a new music conference type thingy due to take place in the European capital of culture at the end of May, will have a launch party type thingy in Liverpool next month - on 14 Feb at the Liverpool Barfly to be precise.


That oddly popular Disney film series High School Musical has become an actual stage musical and will do a ten week run at London's Hammersmith Apollo in June. A touring version, meanwhile, which has already sold £9m worth of tickets in advance sales, is off around the UK as we speak. Or as I type.

As you're probably aware, the High School Musical phenomenon already spawned two movies, with a third in production. Disney executive Steve Fickinger says of its success: "I think the reason High School Musical has been so successful is that kids really enjoy aspirational stories. Like Buzz Lightyear saving the day or Cinderella going to the ball, kids can really relate to that".


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have announced a European tour to take place in Spring in support of their previously reported new album 'Dig Lazarus Dig!', out 3 Mar, preceded by a single of the same name on 18 Feb. Here are the tour dates, which include ones in Dublin, Glasgow, Birmingham and London:

21 Apr: Lisbon Coliseum
22 Apr: Porto Coliseum
24 Apr: San Sebastian Polideportivo Anoeta
25 Apr: Barcelona Razzmatazz
26 Apr: Marseilles Docks Du Suds
28 Apr: Amsterdam Music Hall
29 Apr: Paris Casino Du Paris
1 May: Brussels Forest National
3 May: Dublin Castle
4 May: Glasgow Academy
5 May: Birmingham Academy
7 May: London Hammersmith Apollo
16 May: Oslo Spektrum
17 May: Stockholm Annexe
19 May: Copenhagen KB Halle
21 May: Berlin Tempodrom
24 May: Prague Sazka Arena
25 May: Vienna Gasometer
3 Jun: Zagreb IN Music Festival
4 Jun: Belgrade Arena
6 Jun: Salonika Moni Lazariston
7 Jun: Athens Lycabetus Theatre


Pioneering garage rockers The Sonics, who reformed for some US sets last year, are to play their first ever UK show on 21 Mar, which is quite big news. But that's all the news really. So by writing anything else, I'm just trying to stretch it out and make it look more solid. But really, that's all the news. First UK show, 21 Mar.


According to reports Beyonce Knowles is to play Etta James in an upcoming film about the blues singer, currently in pre-production and entitled 'Cadillac Records'. Jeffrey Wright and Adrien Brody are also said to be signed up to appear in the movie.


So, back to MIDEM, and its traditional for there to be a plethora of announcements from music business types during the big Cannes junket, but this year the pleth seems even more abundant, if such a statement makes sense.

But before the announcements, let's return to Paul McGuinness' big speech. While the U2 manager threw his weight behind the record companies' big campaign against the ISPs, he also found time to have a bit of a diss at the majors, as any artist manager of note would surely be expected to.

His concerns predictably centre on those new revenue streams that the major record companies are keen to get control of in a bid to make things add up as the traditional record sales on which their band investments are traditionally secured begin to slide. As previously noted, as record companies attempt to move into other aspects of their artists' careers - whether that be touring or merchandising or brand partnerships - there will be a power struggle between the majors and the managers, the latter of which have come to control those aspects of their artists' careers other than recordings.

Managers will be suspicious of majors who start to demand involvement in their artists' wider careers, because [a] music business common sense has always said artists shouldn't put all their eggs in one basket; [b] it is generally thought that managers have a duty (contractual or ethical) to act in their artists' best interests and that giving too much control to a major music company would be failing in that duty; and [c] record companies may ultimately seek a management relationship with their artists, ie becoming competitors to existing management firms.

It's with all this in mind that McGuinness aired caution regarding the so called 360 degree deals (ie multiple revenue stream deals) that record companies are getting excited about. He's even cautious about record companies developing new revenue streams on existing recorded material - eg the advertising cut agreements that have been done with digital services carrying major label music.

McGuinness: "There is some excitement about advertising-funded deals. But the record companies must gain our trust to share fairly the revenues they will gain from advertising. Historically they have not been good at transparency. Let's never forget the great CD scam of the 80s when the majors tried to halve the royalties of records released on CD claiming that they needed this extra margin to develop the new technology even as they were entering the great boom years that the CD delivered".

He continued: "It's ironic that at a time when the majors are asking the artists to trust them to share advertising revenue they are also pushing the dreadful 360 model. As Allen Grubman, the well-known New York attorney said to me recently... 'God forbid that one of these acts in a 360 deal has success. The next thing that will happen is the manager gets fired and the lawyer gets sued for malpractice'. Maybe it would help if they were to offer to cancel those deals when they repair their main revenue model and the industry recovers, as I believe it will".


So, on with all those MIDEM announcements.

First, independent download firm 7Digital has announced a new round of funding to the tune of £4.25 million, coming from a group of investors including Sutton Place Managers and existing investor Balderton Capital. The new investment will be used to help 7Digital, which provides the back end to numerous digital music services as well as operating its own download store and unsigned band download service, to fund its global expansion - across Europe and into the US.

7Digital top man Ben Drury told CMU: "The last year has seen rapid growth in the digital music market and this year we expect it to grow even faster with the move toward the open MP3 format. 7digital has enjoyed incredible growth in the UK and Europe and with this new investment we are well-placed to expand overseas and into new areas".


Pan-European trade body IMPALA has announced its new management structure at MIDEM.

Current Secretary General Helen Smith will become Executive Chair, while the body will now have three concurrent Presidents - including current Pres Patrick Zelnick (of French indie Naïve) plus Michel Lambot (PIAS chief) and Horst Weidenmulle (K7 boss). Current chair, Martin Mills (the Beggars Group boss) has stepped down from his IMPALA post.

The trade body also revealed it will publish a new action plan next month which will centre on three strategic aims - to lobby Euro-types for tax benefits for the indie sector, to lobby Euro-types for more controls on major label mergers, and finally to join the rest of the music business in pushing for the ISPs to take on more responsibility for policing P2P file sharing.


Talking of indie label consortiums, the new globally focused body to represent indie labels' digital rights, the much previously reported Merlin, which came into existence at last year's MIDEM, has begun properly promoting its services this week. Independent labels, distributors and content aggregators are all being invited to join the new body - basically anyone who owns or represents master recordings, and who fulfils Merlin's definition of 'independent' (mainly based on market share).

The new body says it will complement the work of existing digital aggregators and collecting societies, who already represent independent record labels with regards many existing digital music services. Merlin, a non-profit making operation, will get involved when it believes there are big deals to be done, and that the independents are being given a rough deal compared to the major record companies. The idea being that in those situations collective bargaining on a global scale will be advantageous to the wider indie sector.

Commenting on the new body's development since its inception a year ago, Merlin CEO Charles Caldas told reporters: "This board has worked incredibly hard to make Merlin a reality, and I'm confident that the organisation we have built is solid, powerful and long-lasting. Merlin will be a vital force in ensuring independents are better able to compete and protect their rights in the future".


Even the BBC's commercial division, BBC Worldwide, had something to announce at MIDEM. It's Audio & Music division has recruited former EMAP Music MD Jon Mansfield to the role of Head Of Content Development, and he will be looking at ways to commercialise the Beeb's music archives, which includes video footage from 'Top Of The Pops' and 'The Old Grey Whistle Test', and the various live session features on Radio 1, in particular the Live Lounge. He will also work with execs elsewhere in the Beeb to look into developing new music based content for commercial exploitation.


Whenever there's lots of announcing going on you can be sure The Orchard will make at least once announcement, and, hey, look, they have. The independent digital aggregator chose MIDEM to announce it had reached a worldwide digital licensing agreement with Academy Recordings, the new record label set up by the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters.

Academy Recordings is basically a new initiative by BACS to allow its members to digitally self-release their own material. The Orchard deal means songwriters who choose to do so will benefit from the aggregator's worldwide distribution and marketing services.

Commenting on the venture Bee Gee Robin Gibb, a 'fellow' of the Academy, told reporters: "This is a landmark opportunity for artists and writers. Unfettered by the demands of the traditional album cycle and label system, I can release any musical idea I choose, in a dialogue with my fans, and actually get paid. This is a serious contender for paving the way of an entirely new approach towards making, marketing and selling music".

High profile BACS members who plan to get involved in the new venture, other than Gibb, include Peter Gabriel, Chrissie Hynde, David Arnold, Peter Maxwell Davies, John Dankworth, Iain Archer and Will Gregory.


Staying with the songwriting side of the industry, and Universal Music Publishing's big MIDEM announcement was the launch of a pan-European licence, which will be available via a new JV with French collecting societies SACEM (performing rights) and SDRM (mechanical rights).

Universal's pan-European licence is similar to the one offered by EMI Music Publishing via its partnership with UK and German collecting societies MCPS-PRS and GEMA, except that, unlike EMI, Universal will continue to allow individual collecting societies in Europe to licence its songs within their own territories - the EMI deal with MCPS-PRS and GEMA is exclusive.


In related news, independent music publisher Peermusic has announced it will be making a pan-European licence available to online and mobile firms via an arrangement with MCPS-PRS and Spanish collecting society SGAE.

Peermusic CEO Ralph Peer said this: "We had welcome expressions of interest [to administrate our pan-European licence] from several very competent societies. At the end of the day we decided to align our initial online licensing agreements with two of the best along cultural lines. Furthermore the [MCPS-PRS] and SGAE are among the more technologically advanced societies and are working together to provide us with a singular data protocol which will ease our administrative issues considerably".


That's enough MIDEM announcements for now, more tomorrow. But let's stay with music publishing, and publishing major Sony/ATV has announced the appointment of former EMI Publishing VP Jody Gerson to the role of Co-President of its US division.

She will sit alongside existing President Danny Strick, with LA based Gerson specifically coordinating the major's West Coast operations, while Strick will head up East Coast, including the pubbery's Nashville operations.

Sony/ATV big cheese Marty Bandier says this: "Jody is an incredibly talented executive who has discovered and signed many of the music industry's biggest stars. I worked with her for many years, and couldn't believe she actually became available. With the growing opportunities in music publishing presented by both traditional as well as digital media, this appointment allows us to strengthen our overall capabilities while accelerating our top-line growth".


Warner Music UK's Atlantic division has announced the launch of a new imprint which will, of course, seek to work with artists on both recordings and other shenanigans. The new label will be called Asylum Records, utilising the name of the Warner owned US imprint, originally founded in the seventies, and relaunched in the States back in 2004, if my memory serves me correctly.

The new Asylum UK will be a stand alone frontline label that will sign its own British based talent. It will be run by Ben Cook, previously of Ministry Of Sound Recordings. Confirming the launch, Atlantic UK boss Max Lousada said this: "We're proud to be reviving such a well-known, well-respected brand in the UK and to be extending the range of services we can offer the artists. I'm delighted to be bringing someone of Ben's calibre on board to lead Asylum UK. He is a seasoned operator and few people have had the kind of success Ben has had in developing critically-acclaimed and successful artists".

Cook added: "I'm thrilled to be joining the team at Warner Music Group, not to mention re-launching the Asylum brand. Warner Music is home to some of the most forward-thinking executives and has been amongst the most progressive in reshaping its business in line with the changing music and entertainment landscape. Max and I share a vision ofwhat a modern label can be and our ideas have coalesced to form Asylum UK. Artists, managers and partners that want to innovate will find Asylum UK a natural home".


Into the world of music publicity now everybody, and music PR firm EMMS Publicity has announced that Junior Oakes has been promoted to the role of Company Director.

Look, here's a quote from Stephen Emms saying so: "We had our most successful year yet in 2007 - our 7th year in business - working diverse campaigns for artists, venues and brands, including Jill Scott, Urban Outfitters' new music site Urban Amplified, X-Press 2, Kosheen, hit Brazilian venue Guanabara (in WC2), the Dragons' Den spin-off project, the One Little Indian label, MOBO winner Akala, Carl Cox, Nate James and countless others. Junior's role is pivotal in the continuing success of our campaigns, client liasion, development of our roster and future business prospects".

Oakes added: "I'm delighted at the opportunities the new appointment brings. A key personal goal is to further develop EMMS' roster: we're fiercely loyal to supporting new music, and will continue to do so, but the last year has seen us work successfully with international brands and huge artists. I want us to investigate all avenues and make 2008 EMMS' strongest year ever".


Vanessa Paradis has come in for some criticism from French fans and media for her set at the previously reported NRJ Awards, as she appeared to be miming when she went on stage without a microphone, and was also accused of putting in a lacklustre performance. One fan present said of the singer, who was nominated for Best French Female Artist and Best French Song for her 2007 hit 'Des Q'J'Te Vois': "I'm very disappointed. Her album is very good, but she acted as if she didn't want to be here. A very disappointing performance".


The model whose bottom is on the cover of The Strokes debut album 'Is This It' has explained how the image (her bottom with a gloved hand on it) came about. She told NME that in fact it wasn't really planned, and happened because she just happened to be naked in the house of her then boyfriend, photographer Colin Lane: "I walked out of the shower and I was completely naked. I was walking around the house - he was like, put this glove on. I walked over, boom, that was the shot".

Lane himself told NME last year: "A stylist left the glove in my apartment. I begged my girlfriend at the time to do it. We did about 10 shots. There was no real inspiration, I was just trying to take a sexy picture. My ex-girlfriend was thrilled - she was a very rock 'n' roll girl so it's a big feather in her cap to have her ass on The Strokes' cover".


Kerry Katona has said that Kate Moss, Britney Spears and Amy Winehouse all need to go to rehab, because it worked for her. I don't mean to be picky, but I think that two of the ladies in question have actually been to rehab. And the third is currently in rehab, I believe. Whether it will work for her remains to be seen. Anyway, Kerry says of her chequered past: "I will be recovering for the rest of my life. I will always be an addict. But I get a lot of stick for it. It is unfair really when you look at Kate Moss and Amy Winehouse. I think they are a lost cause. Britney Spears seriously needs help. They should all go to rehab, it worked for me".

Elsewhere, Katona claims to have been snubbed by former Atomic Kitten bandmates, claiming they cut her out of a recent reunion gig taking place as part of Liverpool's European Capital of Culture. Celebrations. Natasha Hamilton, Liz McLarnon and Jenny Frost were all there, and Katona says she wanted to be there too. She told the Daily Star: "I got a call from the manager asking me if I wanted to be involved. I said yes, but then I never heard anything".



Best British Band: Arctic Monkeys, Babyshambles, The Cribs, Klaxons, Muse

Best International Band: Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters, The Killers, Kings Of Leon, My Chemical Romance

Best New Band: The Enemy, Foals, Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong, The Pigeon Detectives, The Wombats

Best Live Band: Arctic Monkeys, The Cribs, Kaiser Chiefs, Muse, My Chemical Romance

Best Solo Artist: Kate Nash, Jamie T, Jack Penate, Amy Winehouse, Patrick Wolf

Best Album: Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare, Babyshambles - Shotters Nation, The Enemy - We'll Live And Die In These Towns, Klaxons - Myths Of The Near Future, Radiohead - In Rainbows

Best Track: Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent, Bloc Party - Flux, The Cribs - Men's Needs, Oasis - Lord Don't Slow Me Down, The Wombats - Let's Dance To Joy Division

Best Video: Arctic Monkeys - Teddy Picker, Bloc Party - Flux, Justice - D.A.N.C.E, Klaxons - Golden Skans, My Chemical Romance - Teenagers

Best Music DVD: Babyshambles - Up The Shambles, Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same, Nirvana - Unplugged In New York, Oasis - Lord Don't Slow Me Down, Amy Winehouse - I Told You I Was Trouble

Best Live Event: Carling Weekend: Reading And Leeds Festival, Glastonbury, Muse At Wembley Stadium, T In The Park, V Festival

Hero Of The Year: Matt Bellamy, Pete Doherty, Noel Fielding, Ryan Jarman, Thom Yorke

Villain Of The Year: Tony Blair, Johnny Borrell, Gordon Brown, George W Bush, Amy Winehouse

Best Dressed: Pete Doherty, Noel Fielding, Kate Nash, Alex Turner, Gerard Way

Worst Dressed: Johnny Borrell, Pete Doherty, Mika, Gerard Way, Amy Winehouse

Best Dancefloor Filler: Bloc Party - Flux, Foals - Hummer, Justice - D.A.N.C.E, Klaxons - Atlantis To Interzone, The Wombats - Let's Dance To Joy Division

Best Album Artwork: Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare, The Good, The Bad And The Queen - The Good, The Bad And The Queen, The Killers - Sawdust, Kings Of Leon - Because Of The Times, Manic Street Preachers - Send Away The Tigers

Best Radio Show: Russell Brand (Radio 2), Zane Lowe (Radio 1), Chris Moyles (Radio 1), Colin Murray (Radio 1), Jo Whiley (Radio 1)

Worst Album: James Blunt - 1973, The Hoosiers - The Trick To Life, Leona Lewis - Spirit, Mika - Life In Cartoon Motion, Britney Spears - Blackout

Worst Band: 30 Seconds To Mars, Fall Out Boy, The Hoosiers, My Chemical Romance, Panic At The Disco

Best TV Show: Heroes, The Mighty Boosh, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, The IT Crowd, Skins

Best Film: Control, Hot Fuzz, Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End, The Simpsons Movie, Superbad

Sexiest Man: Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, Julian Barrett, Noel Fielding, Nicky Wire, Patrick Wolf

Sexiest Woman: Jenny Lewis, Kylie Minogue, Rhianna, Hayley Williams, Rachael Yamagata

Best Venue: Brixton Academy, Manchester Apollo, Glasgow Barrowlands, London Astoria, Wembley Stadium

Best Website: Bebo, Facebook,, Myspace, YouTube

Best Band Blog: Foals (, Lilly Allen (, Lightspeed Champion (, Radiohead (, The Streets (

Best Music Blog: The Hype Machine (, The Modern Age (, Nothing But Green Lights (, Spinner (, Stereogum (

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