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

In today's CMU Daily:
- Beijing court to re-hear IFPI case against Baidu
- LA Times officially retract Tupac story
- Former US music retail chief dies
- Young Buck, still part of G-Unit but no longer part of G-Unit
- Nas likes Barack
- The Specials might not reform
- Britney may get more access to kids
- Feist dominates Juno awards
- Dylan wins a Pulitzer prize
- Fans evacuate QOTSA gig after light gets smoky
- Shout Out Loads apologise for cut short Leeds gig
- Portishead aren't always miserable
- KT plays at Daryl's house
- Former NIN man to tour with Reznor again
- Radiohead to play Lollapalooza
- New festival champions underground artists
- Jay-Z to headline Wireless too
- Akon's record label opens London office
- Imeem complete purchase of Snocap
- Another indie distributor closes its doors
- Indie record stores form alliance
- More Microsoft / Yahoo! skirmishes
- Coldplay make you sleepy
- Donovon likes going nude

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TOP BIT
The trade body of trade bodies - the Music Business Group - which represents all of CMU's favourite acronyms, like the BPI, AIM, MU, MMF, MPG, PPL, MPA, BACS, BMR and MCPS-PRS (an organisation which has so far not responded to my suggestion they should call themselves the BPIAIMMUMMFMPGPPLMPABACSBMRMCPS-PRS Alliance), is putting together a united response to the much previously reported Gowers Review of UK copyright law, which they will present to the UK Intellectual Property Office today.

The document will give the collected music industry's viewpoint on six recommendations made by Gowers in his 2006 review, though the thing most people have honed in on so far is the Group's possible thoughts on Gowers' suggestion there should be a private copy exception from copyright infringement laws in the sound recording domain.

As previously reported, if you make a private copy of a CD for your own use - in the car or whatever - you are technically infringing a copyright and could be sued by the copyright owner. But given that everyone in the world regularly makes private copies of CDs they have bought, no such action would ever be taken by anyone (and former BPI boss Peter Jamieson said as much during the Gowers Review) meaning the law is, to use a technical term I've picked up from my legal training, "stupid". A private copy exception would mean copies made for genuinely personal private use would not amount to infringement.

The MBG says it agrees with Gowers that a private copy exception would be sensible. No controversy there. However, the issue for debate is whether or not such an exception should be introduced, as Gowers suggests, without "accompanying levies for consumers".

As previously discussed, in some other countries where there has always been a private copy exception a levy has been charged on blank cassettes or CDRs which is passed back to the music community - the idea being that the music world is rewarded for allowing the private copy exception. Some, especially in indie circles, have suggested that the introduction of the exception over here should be accompanied by a levy.

But, as I'm pretty sure we've polemicised here in the Top Bit before, I think pushing for such a levy would cause more problems than the financial reward it may create is worth. Certainly introducing such a levy would be tricky - mainly because sales of blank cassettes and CDRs are in decline, and the device an increasing number of people use for making private copies is a digital music player.

That gets you into iPod tax territory - something that has been considered, not without controversy, in other countries - ie charging a levy on digital music players to compensate artists for the private copy exception. But such a levy would be vehemently opposed by digital music player makers like Apple, who would be sure to spin the levy as yet another example of "the evil music industry screwing every penny it can out of consumers". Even if the profits of the levy are, as some suggest, actually used to fund grass roots music projects. Basically, I can't help thinking the financial benefits of the levy would be out-weighed by the PR damage.

Which is why, even though I understand why some, especially in the indie community, see the introduction of a private copying exception as being the ideal time to introduce some kind of private copying levy, I really don't think its worth the fight. As I understand it, members within the MBG are split on this issue, it remains to be seen what they have to say about the issue.

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JOBS N STUFF

PRESS OFFICER, FORMULA ONE
Near Oxford - £Competitive
You could be jetting off around the world to be the public face of this giant in Formula One at Grands Prix! We are on the hunt for a Press Officer to join our communications team. You will have the responsibility to prioritise and manage all media enquiries and to co-ordinate major projects. You must be an experienced consumer PR practitioner, with some experience at a PR agency. You must be fluent in at least one European language or Japanese and be educated to degree level. To apply, send your CV and a covering letter stating your current salary and why you are the right person for this role to jobs@unicornjobs.com quoting reference SS14

NEW MEDIA COORDINATOR
Cherry Red Records, a West London based independent record company founded 30 years ago, is looking for a New Media Coordinator to look after it's fast growing catalogue. The ideal candidate would be very organised, have good initiative, a decent level of new media knowledge, and a genuine affinity with, and enthusiasm for, the unique and very diverse Cherry Red catalogue. Please write with a detailed CV and name your favourite Cherry Red album to adam@cherryred.co.uk

KUDOS RECORDS REQUIRES A SALES AND LABEL MANAGER
Based in our busy Kentish Town office, core responsibilities include developing our distribution roster, project managing releases for our distributed labels, and maintaining sales to a selection of UK and overseas accounts. The successful candidate will be scrupulously organised and an effective communicator. He or she will posses relevant industry experience, a genuine enthusiasm for the music we distribute, along with a passion for discovering new music. Salary will be based on experience. We also offer a generous performance related bonus scheme. Application by email only, attaching a copy of your CV to labelmanager@kudosrecords.co.uk.

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SNAP OF THE DAY: TIRED IRIE
Geographically, the best place for Tired Irie would be some way across the North Atlantic Ocean, right at the midpoint between the US and the UK. This analogy stands true in the current climate as if I was to start the comparison ball rolling then it'd hit both New Yorkers Battles and CMU's Oxfordshire-based faves Foals before crashing backdown in the Midlands - or more specifically, Leicester, their hometown - which, by the way, seems to be enjoying a revival of indie excellence of late, what with Elle Milano and Kyte both continuing to impress. First up is 'Capsules And Vessels', which hums with tribal percussion, glitchy synths and the more dissonant edges of punk funk; 'Empyres', meanwhile, is bred in the spirit of Foals' 'Cassius' at the start, while 'Simerian' charms in a similar ilk throughout, fumbling with the now ubiquitous new wave guitars to brilliant effect. Perfectly set for the dancefloor, bedroom muso and remix desk, they're at the link below now.

http://www.myspace.com/tiredirie

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BEIJING COURT TO RE-HEAR IFPI CASE AGAINST BAIDU
The always fashionable Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court has agreed to hear the new lawsuit that has been filed by the record industry against China's number one search engine Baidu.

As much previously reported, the record companies dislike the way search engines in China tend to have a bespoke MP3 search facility which 'deep links' to thousands of illegal digital music files, such a facility making it much easier to access unlicenced music.

The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry took legal action against Baidu through the Chinese courts back in 2006 in relation to their MP3 search function. Baidu pleaded that old chestnut of a defence - that they didn't actually host the unlicensed music content, they merely linked to it, so they could not be held liable for any copyright infringement - and were successful in doing so, mainly because Chinese copyright law at the time the lawsuit was filed was rather hazy on the whole issue.

Chinese authorities subsequently altered their copyright laws so to clarify the situation regarding deep linking, and as a result a similar IFPI lawsuit against Yahoo! China went in the record companies' favour. Hence their keenness to sue Baidu for a second time. And with the Beijing court now agreeing to hear the new but basically the same case against Baidu, optimists in the record companies reckon this time they will win.

Welcoming the ruling, IFPI Chairman John Kennedy told reporters: "Baidu is China's largest violator of music copyrights, generating huge revenue by deliberately providing access to illegal content. The scale of what it is doing can be summed up by the fact that if the courts were to rule that Baidu should pay maximum statutory damages for all the infringing tracks available through its service, it would have to pay many billions of dollars in compensation".

Given that Baidu is owned by Chinese internet firm Sohu, who are the official internet sponsors of the Beijing Olympics, perhaps record label chiefs could demonstrate their frustration over all the deep linking the modern way - by throwing water over the Olympic torch as it works its way through the US today.

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LA TIMES OFFICIALLY RETRACT TUPAC STORY
Just in case there was any doubt, and possibly in a bid to placate those hip hop lawyers who are currently brushing up on their libel law, the LA Times have now officially retracted that story published on 17 Mar, which claimed that Sean 'Diddy Whatnot' Combs and Czar Entertainment chief Jimmy Rosemond knew in advance that Tupac Shakur would be assaulted at a recording studio in 1994.

As much previously reported, the article, entitled 'An Attack on Tupac Shakur launched a Hip-Hop War', and written by Pulitzer prize winning journalist Chuck Philips, claimed that Diddy and Rosemond both knew about and, Rosemond's case, were involved in the 1994 assault - an event which some say was the catalyst that led to hip hop's darkest era, and the murders of Shakur and rival rapper the Notorious BIG. Philips' allegations weren't new, but he claimed to have seen secret FBI documents that proved them to be true. Said documents have since been shown to be fake.

In their statement, The LA Times said, "[We have] since concluded that the FBI reports were fabricated and that some of the other sources relied on - including the person Philips previously believed to be the 'confidential source' cited in the FBI reports - do not support major elements of the story. Consequently, The Times is retracting the March 17 web publications as well as a shorter version of the article that appeared on Page E1 in the March 19 Calendar section of the newspaper. Statements that Philips made in two online chats, on March 18 and 25, and on The Times' Soundboard blog on March 21 also are being retracted".

The newapaper also issued an apology to Combs and Rosemond specifically, acknowledging that basic facts about the moguls were wrong: "Any statements or implications suggesting that Combs was given advance knowledge of the assault on Shakur, or played any role in it, are specifically retracted. In addition, The Times was mistaken in reporting that Rosemond has served prison time for drug dealing and was convicted in 1996 of drug offenses. The Times specifically retracts those statements".

Consider them retracted. In fact, we've even forgotten they ever existed. What existed? See, I don't know. Whether Diddy and Rosemond's lawyers will be able to forget about the whole incident so quickly, remains to be seen.

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FORMER US MUSIC RETAIL CHIEF DIES
One of the key men behind what was once one of the US's biggest music chains, Camelot Music, has died aged 60. Jim Bonk joined Camelot in 1968 and, as COO and later President, grew the record shop chain to 364 stores, making it one of America's biggest and most popular music retailers. Despite some wobbles in the nineties which almost led to bankruptcy, Bonk continued to lead the business with some success until it was sold to Trans World Entertainment in 1999, who ultimately rebranded the chain under the FYE brand.

Paying tribute to Bonk, one of his colleagues at Camelot, Larry Mundorf, told Billboard: "He was humble and unassuming, but he had a knack for business and a good sense of how to accomplish things. He conveyed a great sense of optimism and his can-do attitude was inspirational to all of us at Camelot".

Bonk also served as a President of the US's National Association Of Recording Merchandisers in the early nineties, and the trade body's current President, Jim Donio, said yesterday: "Jim Bonk was truly the epitome of a 'gentleman' and it was my distinct honor to know and work with him, especially during his time on the NARM Board. He approached industry issues forthrightly, but with a thoughtful and respectful consideration of the various perspectives, and often with good humor. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Linda, his family, friends, and many industry colleagues".

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YOUNG BUCK, STILL PART OF G-UNIT BUT NO LONGER PART OF G-UNIT
OK, take note people, Young Buck is no longer part of the G-Unit, OK? He will, however, continue to record for 50 Cent's G-Unit label.

50 Cent asked Young Buck to join his G-Unit hip hop group after founder member Tony Yayo was jailed in 2003, and he worked on the band's debut album. As Fiddy's own career exploded, and he was awarded his own imprint within Universal's Interscope empire, 50 Cent then signed Young Buck up as a solo artist, and he has remained signed to the Fiddy label ever since, despite him setting up his own indie label Cashville Records.

However, there have been reports of tensions between the two hip hoppers of late, with Young Buck reportedly claiming G-Unit Records hadn't paid him anything for his work with the label. Although his manager denied those reports, and said Young Buck was still a staunch advocate of all things G-Unit, it was clear the two rappers were drifting apart. And 50 Cent seemingly confirmed that fact on the Hot 97 morning show this week by saying that while Young Buck will continue to record for his label they will not be collaborating through the G-unit group anymore.

Comparing some of Young Buck's recent comments to those of another estranged former G-Uniter, The Game, Fiddy said: "You can look at it and see that's Game all the way. I was giving him a chance, giving him the benefit of the doubt [to remain with the group]. You can take this as an official notice right here - pretty much you can say: Young Buck is no longer in the group G-Unit, but signed to G-Unit [Records] as a solo artist".

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NAS LIKES BARACK
Rapper Nas is the latest music type to declare his allegiance to Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, describing him as the "face of America". He told MTV: "There's no two ways to look at it, man - the man's got what it takes. He's serious. As a kid, you always think, 'We'll never see a black president,' you know? 'There'll never be a black president.' And you always feel that way. Everybody's always grew up that way, black and white. So I think now, with Obama having a great chance of winning, I think [with] black and white, there's been something lifted off their shoulders. It's like, 'This can happen. This can be great.' And it's about time".

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THE SPECIALS MIGHT NOT REFORM
Following on from last week's announcement by The Specials' Terry Hall that the ska legends are hoping to reform for a tour later this year, the band's co-frontman Neville Staple has told BBC 6 Music that while the original line up are in deed working together again, it is too early to say what reunion activity will or will not actually take place.

He said: "A couple of months ago we started talking. We had to talk first to see if we could get on, but we got past the talking stage. Then we said, 'Okay, let's see what we're like in a room together rehearsing with instruments'. So the musicians done that first, then Terry went down. So we've had two rehearsals. One where they're on their own, and then the last one where me and Terry went in. We're just seeing how it goes. If it gels, it gels. If it doesn't, you don't wanna go out there as some old geriatrics - not me. What we've got to do is make sure the music at least is right. We're feeling it out now. It sounded alright actually but it's gonna take more than one rehearsal. So if it works, we'll do it. If not, well. I'm sorry lads and girls. But we're trying".

He also added that there are no plans to write or record any new material at this time.

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BRITNEY MAY GET MORE ACCESS TO KIDS
More Britney, and news that the popstress could get overnight visits with her two sons again. Spears, of course, has had incredibly restricted access to Sean Preston and Jayden James ever since that incident at the start of the year where she refused to hand them back after a visit. But insiders say that Spears has shown more "responsible parental behaviour" during recent sessions with her sons, and that that may persuade the courts to increase her access to them.

Though Mark Vincent Kaplan, the lawyer for ex Kevin Federline who currently has custody of the children, aired some caution despite restressing that his client's long term aim is to have his children's mother back in their lives.

He told OK magazine: "Britney's progress over the last two months is good. But it's premature to say that two months shows a pattern of consistency. We need to see a steady, consistent trend of behaviour for a while. The goal is consistency over time with nothing at all out of the ordinary".

He added: "Kevin's goal involves primary custody but also involves his desire to see Britney become, over time, a solid and substantial figure in her boys' lives. And she is inching toward that".

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FEIST DOMINATES JUNO AWARDS
Feist followed a very good year, helped in no small part by the use of '1234' on that iPod advert, by dominating this year's Juno Awards - Canada's version of the Brits - picking up five gongs. The ceremony, which took place on Sunday night, saw Feist pick up the awards for Artist Of The Year, Single Of The Year (for '1234'), Songwriter Of The Year, Album Of The Year and Pop Album Of The Year.

Other artists who scored included Michael Buble, who grabbed the Fan Choice Award, Rhianna for Best International Album, and Arcade Fire for Best Alternative Album.

On accepting her second award of the night, a tearful Feist said: "I'm so grateful, I'm very, very grateful. And I meant to say thank you, I forgot to say that before, and then the nylon-string guitar came in and cut me off. It was terrible"

Later, she told Reuters that the awards ceremony was "a nice recognition for everyone who's out there, sweating blood and tears".

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DYLAN WINS A PULITZER PRIZE
More awards, and Bob Dylan has been presented an honorary Pulitzer Prize for his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power". The Pulitzers are much sought after prizes for literary and journalist types, but their musical prize in the past has been mainly limited to the classical and, more recently, jazz genres. All of which means Dylan's win is something of a landmark. Prize administrator Sig Gissler said Dylan's win "reflects the efforts of the Pulitzer board to broaden the scope of the music prize". Having won a Pultizer we now expect Dylan to go round making wild allegations about the moguls of hip hop.

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FANS EVACUATE QOTSA GIG AFTER LIGHT GETS SMOKY
Thousands of fans were forced to evacuate a Queens Of The Stone Age gig in Australia on Friday night after a stage light got rather hot and started filling the venue with smoke. The smoke started to appear before the band had even taken to the stage at Hobart City Hall in Tasmania, but it seems that everyone evacuated the premises without incident anyway, meaning the offending light could be quickly dealt with by local firemen allowing everyone back into the venue so that the gig could start just 20 minutes late. A spokesman for the Tasmanian Fire Service told reporters: "The evacuation of the packed out venue was achieved with minimal effort that was made a lot easier by the cooperation of the patrons and abundance of emergency exit doors in the hall".

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SHOUT OUT LOADS APOLOGISE FOR CUT SHORT LEEDS GIG
Swedish indie types Shout Out Louds have apologised for abandoning their gig at the Leeds Cockpit 35 minutes in on Saturday night - it seems keyboardist Bebban Stenborg was taken ill. In a posting on their MySpace, Bebban writes: "Hello people of Leeds. My sincere apologies for the show cut short in your fair city. I was abominably under the weather, hence to blame for the untimely demise of our performance. I will do my absolute best to make it up to you all on our next visit".

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PORTISHEAD AREN'T ALWAYS MISERABLE
Portishead's Geoff Barrow has been speaking about the decade long wait for the group's new album, 'Third', and has revealed that their most fruitful recording sessions came when they were in a negative mind-frame, which is why the album took so long to make.

Speaking to Metro, he said that the band need to be in an "incredibly miserable, unpleasant place to write anything," which often leaves long periods of time when they are unable to write - presumably being mildly upset isn't enough. "Our albums are born out of frustration, whether it be Bristol City Council, frustration with human's lack of ability to communicate with each other or whether you've heard some really shit song and it drives you to write a better one. They're not born in a comfortable place".

Portishead's third album, 'Third', is released on 28 Apr, preceded by the single 'Machine Gun' on 14 Apr.

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KT PLAYS AT DARYL'S HOUSE
KT Tunstall appears in a new webcast thingy produced by Daryl Hall (as in '& Oates). Apparently it's the fifth webcast to be staged by Hall, from his London home no less, and Tunstall can be seen collaborating with him on versions of 'Kiss On My List' and 'Out Of Touch', as well as her own hit, 'Black Horse And The Cherry Tree'.

Commenting on the webcast, Hall said this: "Working with KT Tunstall was a fantastic musical experience. She's got a really great voice, with a solid guitar style and a very centered way of looking at music. Our voices really blend well and I'd love to work with her more in the future".

You can see the webcast at http://www.livefromdarylshouse.com. A new edition filmed at SxSW (so, not in Daryl's house then) and featuring T Bone Wolk will go live on 15 Apr.

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FORMER NIN MAN TO TOUR WITH REZNOR AGAIN
Former Nine Inch Nails collaborator and post-Slash Guns N Roses guitarist, Robin Finck, has confirmed he'll be working with NIN's Trent Reznor again. Fink previously toured with Reznor on the tours that coincided with the release of 'Self-Destruct', 'Further Down The Spiral' and 'Fragility v1.0'. He will tour again with NIN at a number of just announced US tour dates, including a Lollapolooza set.

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RADIOHEAD TO PLAY LOLLAPALOOZA
Talking of which, following yesterday's speculation as to who would play this year's Lollapalooza, this morning the confirmed line up for the high profile US festival, which takes place in Chicago's Grant Park between the 1-3 Aug. And Radiohead and Rage Against The Machine will join Nine Inch Nails on the headliner list, while also on the bill are such prestigious names as Kanye West, The Raconteurs, Cat Power, Gnarls Barkley, Wilco, Mark Ronson, Lupe Fiasco, Yeasayer and many, many more. To be honest, with a line-up like that, it's not hard to see why last year's festival - headlined by Daft Punk, Muse and Pearl Jam - was the fifth highest grossing festival in the world. If only I got to go. See the full line-up at http://www.lollapalooza.com

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NEW FESTIVAL CHAMPIONS UNDERGROUND ARTISTS
Another new festival for you all, hurrah. And this one is a mere 15 miles from London, so its conceivable I might get to go. Redfest is a new two day festival taking place in parkland near Redhill Surrey which, I'm told, will feature some of the most exciting acts to emerge from today's thriving underground music scene.

In case you wonder what that means, already on the bill are The Maccabees, Lightspeed Champion, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Late Of The Pier, Ebony Bones, Johnny Foreigner, Pete and The Pirates and Robots In Disguise.

The independently run festival has that aim of returning to a more "innocent style" of festival, with Promoter Matt Nichols saying this: "In today's crowded festival market, there aren't that many independently run festivals who are putting on events without jumping into bed with the big corporations.

How many festivals these days feel soulless? With Redfest, I want to reduce the emphasis on gimmicks and corporate sponsorship and take things back to basics so today's youth can have the same experience that previous generations of festival goers had: an event put on purely with music in mind".

The festival takes place on Friday 4 and Sat 5 Jul 2008. For more information go to http://www.redfest.co.uk.

Redfest promoters are also looking for unsigned bands from the Surrey/Sussex area interested in having a spot there - details can be found at http://www.myspace.com/red_fest.

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JAY-Z TO HEADLINE WIRELESS TOO
Having got the Glastonbury faithful so excited that they can't even get to their phones to order their tickets, Jay-Z has been confirmed as a headliner for this year's Hyde Park based Wireless Festival - ticket lines are sure to be jammed. Actually, I should stress I'm a big Jay-Z fan and, given the chances of me making it to Glastonbury are essentially zero, I'm very excited about the chance of seeing him play the London fest. The hip hopper will headline the first night of Wireless 2008, with Mark Ronson, Hot Chip and Roisin Murphy also on the bill.

Talking of Jay-Z's Glasto set, Michael Eavis yesterday denied rumours the hip hop star was backing out of his headline slot at the festival, possibly because of conditions of his much touted new contract with Live Nation (though those rumours never made sense given that Live Nation have a stake in Glastonbury) and possibly because so much of the UK media have linked him headlining the festival with the slow take up of tickets for the uber-fest. But Eavis told reporters yesterday: "I spoke to his people this weekend. Everything is fine. I'm excited".

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AKON'S RECORD LABEL OPENS LONDON OFFICE
Akon's record company, the Konvict Music Company, has launched a London office with a view to signing European and African talent. AllHipHop.com quote the label's CEO Melvin Brown thus: "We will be scanning Europe and Africa for the next mega superstars. When Akon and I partnered and created Konvict Muzik, we agreed that we would have the hottest artists on our roster. I have concentrated on diversifying the artist roster and creating an international presence. I personally look for unique artists. I want something that sets us aside from the rest and is completely different than the average every day music you hear. I want real talent that can be maximized and molded into mega superstars such as [current signings] Akon, T-Pain and now GLOWB. I realized that there is so much out there when I began the quest with GLOWB and it motivated me to broaden the spectrum of demographics".

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IMEEM COMPLETE PURCHASE OF SNOCAP
Music based social networking whatnot Imeem has completed its acquisition of Snocap, the digital music service provider set up by original Napster founder Shawn Fanning. Snocap was set up to provide music recognition technology required for the running of legit P2P services. They got quite a bit of support from the record labels in that work, and from companies developing legit P2Ps.

Unfortunately said companies never got round to launching their services, leaving Snocap waiting around for the legit P2P sector to establish itself. In the meantime they moved into other areas of digital music service provision, in particular powering the original not especially successful MySpace download service. All the waiting round caused financial problems for the firm, who last year severely downsized and put themselves up for sale.

Details of Immem's purchase of the firm have not been revealed, nor what aspects of Snocap's business are of most interest to the social networking company.

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ANOTHER INDIE DISTRIBUTOR CLOSES ITS DOORS
It really is a bad time to be in independent music distribution. Another indie distributor has ceased trading, this time Timewarp Distribution, who specialised in music of the jazz, soul, funk and dance kind. The company's MD, Bill Shannon, says that the changing market for physical music product is hitting middle-sized distributors especially hard, a trend which, coupled with some bad debts from recent years, have made trading for Timewarp unviable.

Music Week quote Shannon thus: "We had several hits from bad debts over the past two, three, four years and that, with the downturn generally, has contributed to the need to liquidate. I know there's still a demand for physical product, but you have to either be a very large company or a very small one to survive, I think. To be in the mid-range like we were isn't viable".

Timewarp's closure follows the recent demise of both the Amato and Goya distribution companies in the UK, plus admissions from one of the big guys in US music distribution, Handelman, that its revenues were down.

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INDIE RECORD STORES FORM ALLIANCE
More from the indie retail sector, and fifteen independent record stores, including London's Rough Trade and Sister Ray, Manchester's Piccadilly Records, Leeds' Jumbo Records and Avalance in Edinburgh, have formed the Coalition Of UK Indie Stores, which will fight for the interests of indie music retailers. And hurrah for that. The new body will be led by Avalance owner Kevin Buckle for its first three months, after which Rough Trade East manager Spence Hickman will do some leading. The group will officially launch on Record Store Day on 19 Apr, the previously reported day designed to promote indie record traders around the world.

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MORE MICROSOFT / YAHOO! SKIRMISHES
Our contacts at Microsoft seem pretty certain that they will, at some point, in the not to distant future, successfully takeover Yahoo!, but as the web firm rejected a new takeover offer from the IT giant, it seems certain that any Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo! is going to be hostile.

Yahoo!'s chairman and CEO, Roy Bostock and Jerry Yang, yesterday hit out at Microsoft after their CEO Steve Ballmer accused the net firm's directors of refusing to co-operate during takeover talks, and threatened to stage a hostile takeover of the web company if they continued to be uncooperative.

But in an open letter, Bostock and Yang said yesterday that Ballmer was "mischaracterising the nature of our discussions" adding: "We have had constructive conversations together regarding a variety of topics, including integration and regulatory issues. Your comment that we have refused to enter into negotiations to conclude an agreement are particularly curious given we have already rejected your initial proposal. Moreover, Steve, you personally attended two of these meetings and could have advanced discussions in any way you saw fit."

They concluded by saying that talk of a hostile takeover was "counterproductive and inconsistent with your stated objective of a friendly transaction". Although Bostock and Yang did leave the door open for future discussions, saying that the company was still open to "all alternatives ... this includes a transaction with Microsoft if it represents a price that fully recognises the value of Yahoo! on a standalone basis and ... is superior to our other alternatives", it is widely assumed that Microsoft will already be sounding out Yahoo!'s shareholders regarding the option of cutting Bostock and Yang out of the equation and going the hostile takeover route.

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COLDPLAY MAKE YOU SLEEPY
It's the kind of statistic were prone to make up at CMU - Coldplay will send you to sleep, official - but today we don't need to, because Travelodge have made it up for us. I mean they conducted indepth research and found it to be true. Yep, new research from the hotel chain reveals that Coldplay are the band mostly likely to send us to sleep. Martin et al beat James Blunt, Snow Patrol, Take That and Norah Jones to the top spot. Rock n roll.

Leigh McCarron of Travelodge said: "The research shows that we are increasingly relying on slow, sleepy music and unchallenging books to take our minds off the pressures of modern living, to help us switch off and get to sleep at night. Coldplay seem to hit just the right spot among Britain's insomniacs".

The study into the sleeping habits of 2,248 Britons also found that Jordan and Sharon Osbourne's autobiographies were among the favourite books used to induce sleep.

So , if you're feeling a bit wired, fear not, Coldplay's fourth album 'Viva La Vida' is due for release in June.

Elsewhere in Coldplay news, Chris Martin's mother in law Blythe Danner has been denying rumours that he and wife Gwyneth Paltrow are going through a bad patch. She told reporters: "I've never seen two happier parents and people. Happy, happy people. I don't get it".

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DONOVON LIKES GOING NUDE
One time pop king and more recent ITV soap star Jason Donovon told reporters recently: "I love to go nude in my house. Nude is something to be embraced". Which isn't something you necessarily needed to know but, hey, we've told you know.

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