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TODAY'S NEWS
There's a mole in the exact same position: R Kelly trial update
Levert died from natural causes, says coroner
Spears not ready for courtroom
Miley Cyrus is top pap target
Watson reveals brain tumour fears
Kylie aging most glamorously, says poll
Duffy shuns fame for music
Springsteen on"victory laps"
Muse start work on fifth album
Daft Punk start work on fourth album
Calvin Harris restarts work on second album
Rihanna to work with Ronson
Manson starts acting career
Macca refunds offered following outcry
Those Dancing Days auction singer
Levellers and Beautiful Days news
Mike Patton and Melvins curate ATP Xmas show
Wax off? Wax:on!
Carling launch DJ contest
Single review: Magic Wands – Black Magic
Consumer body calls for honest ticket pricing
Live Nation US launch Facebook app
More EMI corporate gossip
French support three-strikes system, say French labels
EMI partner in new download kiosk venture
Slicethepie teams up with Gibson
NME revamp mobile content offer
GCap reportedly sell Planet Rock
Absolute close to securing Jack FM
Album review: The Dresden Dolls – No, Virginia
Fiddy is the new Siralan
Yes, they were lying, Ashlee is pregnant
Preston engaged again
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FRIDAY 30TH MAY

It's my birthday today, which I am using as a rubbish excuse for the Daily being a bit late (that and technical problems galore). I never usually tell anyone it's my birthday, but in this Facebook age everyone knows anyway, so I thought I'd do a birthday inspired Top Bit.

It's birthday inspired because last night a twenty pound iTunes voucher popped into my email, a birthday present from my sister up there in Leeds. I have to say, this is one of the best presents I can receive. I will now spend much of tomorrow morning wandering around the iTunes Music Store deciding what  25 songs I'm going to download – some new stuff, Sebastian Tellier's Eurovision song will be high up on the list – and some old stuff, you know, all the things I already own on vinyl or cassette, but which don't currently randomly play on my computer. I can't wait.

I've done exactly this thing with past iTunes voucher presents, and it occurs to me that part of the fun of it all isn't that I get to download 25 new songs, but that I get to download JUST 25 new songs. Of course I could just chuck my credit card details into my iTunes account and carry on downloading all weekend, or go and find a less reputable provider of digital music and download everything for free. Or not download anything and just live in the knowledge I can listen to pretty much anything I want on demand via YouTube.

But in a weird way it's the having to get my wish list of songs down to just 25 which is so much fun – ie there's as much enjoyment in the downloading bit as in actually listening to the music once it's on your PC. In much the same way I seem to remember quite enjoying trailing around the various record shops of Stoke-On-Trent in my younger years, seeing how far I could make my ten pounds record spending money stretch by buying each single from whichever record seller was offering it for the least money, and investing the change in a few random purchases from the 50p basket.

And why is any of this relevant? Well, I guess I agree with Amazon chief Jeff Bezos when he said earlier this week that "a few different [business] models can be supported in digital content". We may be in an era where most music is, in theory, available at anytime, for free or by subscription, but there is still mileage for services which can provide that pleasurable experience of discovering new music, or rediscovering old favourites, and having to decide which you will and which you won't give your attention (and your money) today. Quite what the commercial model is for those services I'm not sure (eMusic is the closest existing one I guess). but I suspect, or at least hope, such services have a long term future in this mad digital age.

Though, of course, I am old. 33 years old today to be precise. Perhaps the kids have no interest in the "fun" of having limited access to tunes, and having to decide which tunes to prioritise. Though if that's the case, that's a shame, because I think its all part of the excitment of being a music fan.

PS: Anyone looking for a way to celebrate my 33rd (anyone?), you can do so at the CMU Social which takes place at 299 in London on Tuesday from 7pm. It's going to be brilliant. The headliners are secret of course, though I can tell you that the universe will be in reverse when some topboys we can't get enough of explode onto the CMU Social stage, a bit like Semtex - don't make mistakes, be there. Email your names and details of any guests to social@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk if you want to come.

   


CHRIS' CLUB TIP: Knuckle Sandwich Album Launch
Another CMU Recommended bash to slot into your diaries, a storming night of all that is brill in breaks from the NuSkoolBreaks.co.uk posse, over here in Shoreditch. In the main room will be the official album launch party for Rico Tubbs' new long player 'Knuckle Sandwich', with Rico Tubbs (obviously) plus Atomic Hooligan, Lady Waks and Blende. The other room will feature the Mr Moneyshots Birthday Bash, headlined by Finger Lickin's brilliant Soul Of Man with support from Steelzawheelz, Catch 22 and 2 Bit Things. If you like you're breaks, you have to be here.

Friday 30 May, 9pm-3am, Herbal, Kingsland Road, E2, £10 (£8 advance and NUS), info from jim@nuskoolbreaks.co.uk.

VIGSY'S CLUB TIP: Inspiration Information at East Village
Relocating from the Notting Hill Arts Club, this night has been going on a while, and quite rightly so. Patrick Forge is one of the best alternative DJ's, and definitely up there with Radio 1's super cool Gilles Peterson, and here he's backed up by the burly 'house with soul' supremo Phil Asher. Blending the finest soulful and jazzy house, broken beat, boogie, funk, Latin and other super cool shit, the power duo will be joined by Swedish Raw Fusion party thrower Mad Mats and the lost Canadian hero Christian Pronovost. East Village was previously known as Medicine Bar, in case you're wondering, and I gather they have recently revamped the soundsystem which can only be a good thing...

Sat 31 May, 7pm-4am, East Village, 89 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3HX, £5 then £10 after 10pm, www.eastvillageclub.com, press Info: Rosalia at Ferrara PR.

CHRIS' CLUB/GIG/MINI-FESTIVAL TIP: Insomniacs Ball at seOne
We've been plugging this lots, of course, so shouldn't need to tell you too much about it at this late stage. Vaults, bands, DJs, buy one get one free drinks till 11, admission for under a tenner, and Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, The Ghost Frequency, Dead Kids, Haunts, Riton, Radioclit, DJ Orgasmic, Misty Rabbit, Punks Jump Up, David H, The Lovely Jonjo, Kitty Bang Bang, Roxy Velvet and Lady Ane Angel. It's the big one this weekend, and it's CMU Recommended.

Sat 31 May, 9pm-6am, seOne, Weston Street, London, £9.50, www.myspace.com/insomniacsball, press info from Leyline.

   

 
 

OFFICE SPACE IN CAMDEN
Backstreet International Merchandise have desk space available for creative/music/media types looking for affordable workspace in central Camden. For enquiries please contact Steve Faye on 0207 428 1107 or email steve.faye@bsimerch.com

Advertise your services here from just £120 a week - full details here


ADVERTISING MANAGER AT ROCK SOUND

Rock Sound Magazine is looking for an Advertising Manager. The role consists of maximising sales and key account management across the display and classified areas of the magazine, as well as the website, and dealing with the music industry at both direct client and advertising agency level. The candidate should be into rock music, have at least one year's display sales experience, good contacts at record labels and advertising agencies and have strong phone and presentational skills. Experience of selling to lifestyle brands would be an advantage. If you think you're the right person please email patrick.napier@rock-sound.net explaining why and attaching your CV.

Advertise your vacancies here from just £100 a week - full details here.

THERE'S A MOLE IN THE EXACT SAME POSITION: R KELLY TRIAL UPDATE
The R Kelly trial moved onto forensics yesterday, and it was all about a mole.

You may remember that at the start of the trial the defence presented the court with a photo of R Kelly's back, and pointed out a small mole on it. That mole, they said, could not be seen on the man in the sex tape at the heart of this trial, proving it wasn't the R&B star in it. But the mole came back to haunt Kelly's legal team yesterday when the prosecution presented a forensics expert who has been looking at the sex video in particular detail, and who claims the mole can, in fact, be seen. Showing the jury a photo of Kelly's back taken after his original arrest in 2002, and then frames from the video, Grant Fredericks said: "There is a mark on the man's back in the exact same position". Kelly's lawyers, cross-examining the expert, suggested the spot on the tape wasn't in the same place as the mole on their client's back, and also that the mark could be down to a technical imperfection on the tape. But the defence team were reportedly looking quite stressed about the testimony, which can probably be seen as a result for the prosecution.

Earlier the prosecution had brought forward another expert to discuss the video in technical terms. George Skaluba was wheeled in to deal with claims by the defence that the video may have been set up or tampered with in a bid to frame Kelly – by employing a look-alike or doing clever technical tricks. But Skaluba said that there was no sign of any clever editing or technical effects being employed in the tape, which was "real people in a real environment". He added that using computer-generated images to make this tape would have been "very, very time consuming and very hard to do". Although ruling out technical wizardry, the expert admitted he couldn't comment on whether or not a look-alike had been used.

Kelly is accused of recording himself engaging in sex acts with a minor, and faces fifteen years in jail if found guilty. He pleads innocence, claiming that the man in the sex tape at the heart of the case is not him, and disputing the alleged identity of the girl also. His lawyers said yesterday that they needed more time to question a new witness who came forward on Wednesday. That witness is believed to be related to have information about one of the prosecution's most controversial witnesses – a woman who claims to have had a threesome with Kelly and the alleged victim, while the victim was underage. It had been thought that witness would take to the stand yesterday, but her testimony has presumably been delayed while the new witness is questioned.

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LEVERT DIED FROM NATURAL CAUSES, SAYS CORONER
A coroner has ruled this week that Sean Levert died of natural causes. The 39 year old R&B singer, as previously reported, died in hospital on 30 Mar just an hour after being transferred from Cuyahoga County jail, where he was one week into serving a 22 month sentence for failure to make child support payments. The coroner, Frank Miller, said that Levert died from complications of inflammatory lung disease sarcoidosis, but that he was also suffering from other conditions - heart disease, high blood sugar, and Xanax withdrawal symptoms.

His family, by all accounts, aren't best pleased with the ruling, as they feel that his death could probably have been prevented. Lawyers for Levert's widow Angela Lowe say that according to sheriff's department records, he wasn't seen by a doctor, or given his anti-anxiety medicine, the aforementioned Xanax, during the period he was in prison, and it's claimed that these factors could have contributed to his demise. According to wardens at the prison, on the night he died Levert had been sick, and guards were watching him because he had been acting strangely. When he began pounding on his cell door, he was restrained. He was removed to hospital when his breathing became shallow.

Attorney Daryl Dennie said: "He was exhibiting classic signs of Xanax withdrawal. A doctor would have been able to recognize these problems. Had he been able to see one in that week's time things could have been different". He then explained that Levert had taken a bottle of Xanax with him to prison, but he was never given access to it. Lowe's lawyer David Malik added: "They inventoried it and they never gave it to him. He requested it during the time he was in jail".

Levert was, of course, the son of O'Jays singer Eddie Levert, and a member of 80s R&B trio LeVert alongside brother Gerald, who, as previously reported, died in 2006 at the age of forty when he took an accidentally lethal mixture of prescription and over-the counter drugs. It's not clear whether widow Lowe intends to pursue further legal action. She released a statement yesterday which read: "Sean was loved by many and both his family and fans are saddened beyond comprehension. Sean Levert did not die as a result of illegal drug usage".

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SPEARS NOT READY FOR COURTROOM
Britney Spears' court appointed lawyer Samuel Ingham has said that his client is not yet fit to appear at court proceedings in relation to the conservatorship case, at a ninety minute hearing at Commissioner Reva Goetz's chambers yesterday. As previously reported, all of Spears' affairs are being handled by her father under a conservatorship order put in place by the courts earlier this year.

Ingham told the court that Spears' medical condition is "fluid" because her treatment is changing, and that to appear at the scheduled probate case trial on 31 Jul could be harmful to her. Goetz said that the pop star's diagnosis is yet to be completed and that she needed more information before deciding whether or not to dissolve the conservatorship. The commissioner recommended that the court be updated on 16 Jun, ahead of that 31 Jul trial date.

Well, whatever poor Britney's state of mind, there's one person she can count on for parenting tips, as Supernanny Jo Frost has been talking to Entertainment Tonight about the singer's relationship with her two boys. Frost said: "I do believe she loves her children very much and I'd be more than happy to put her on the right track and feel more empowered as a parent. It's about Britney being in a place where she's feeling secure and confident in herself, so that she is able to take care of her little ones and give them what they need from her, which is their mother around".

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MILEY CYRUS IS TOP PAP TARGET
More Britney related stuff now. Paparazzo types are saying that pictures of singer and actress (and daughter of Billy Ray) Miley Cyrus are becoming more valuable even than pics of Britney, and that a candid picture of the fifteen year old's first kiss could fetch as much as $150,000. Splash News CEO Gary Morgan told the LA Times that Cyrus is getting more popular because she's not a "train wreck" like Spears, and is pictured doing wholesome things like riding a bike, having lunch with friends and going to church, oh, and appearing in pictures for Vanity Fair that made her look topless. Which was all an artistic misunderstanding, by the way.

Anyway, Morgan's quoted as saying: "There's a move toward all-American clean living. Everyone is looking for a moral teenager, someone they can look up to". Frank Griffin of Bauer-Griffin added "[Consumers] want to see success. They don't want to see failure. If someone famous falls on their face, you have to report it... but Miley is going to steal all of Britney's thunder. Kids want to see her. They don't want to see ripped fishnets and fear and mascara-streaked cheeks."

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WATSON REVEALS BRAIN TUMOUR FEARS
Opera singer Russell Watson has told ITV1's Tonight show of his fears that his brain tumour will return for a third time. He said: "I know that I'll never be able to just get on with my life again. It's always going to be there... there's always going to be that fear".

Watson was successfully treated for a pituitary gland tumour behind his eyes in 2005 but it returned two years later. He received further treatment but surgeons were unable to remove parts of the tumour.

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KYLIE AGING MOST GLAMOROUSLY, SAYS POLL
A new survey of more than 36,000 music fans has voted Kylie Minogue the celebrity who is growing older most glamorously, and that they'd like to see carrying on with a music career until she drops. Which is great. Second on the list was Madonna, however, which throws the credibility of the honour into question, a bit, frankly. Elsewhere in the poll, a third of respondents said they wished Amy Winehouse would retire right now (boo!) and 23% wanted to see the back of Kerry Katona, which is possibly fair enough.

The poll was conducted for xRank, a new 'celeb barometer' that charts celebs by the number of daily web searches they get.  Paul Stoddart, Live Search UK Senior Product Manager, said: "With so many celebrities reaching milestone birthdays this year, we wanted to get the public's opinion on who they think will still be on top of their game in years to come".

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DUFFY SHUNS FAME FOR MUSIC
Speaking to the BBC, Duffy has said that she only became happy with her music when she gave up on the idea of ever being famous. She said: "I knew what I wanted for many years but people used me a lot along the way as a vehicle for their vision, not mine. And so I really pulled back when I was about 18 and decided I couldn't achieve what I wanted, I couldn't go all the way in music. I think then my shift changed completely and I just became almost a quite withdrawn singer. And so now I get this place. I made a record that was just about music. No dreams, no ambitions, no expectation, nothing. I just made a bunch of songs. The pop star thing really, really wasn't at all in my mind or a priority. I didn't want to be famous. I still don't want to be famous".

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SPRINGSTEEN ON "VICTORY LAPS"
Also not fussed about fame these days is Bruce Springsteen. Speaking to The Daily Express about his current world tour, he said: "My take on the whole thing is, by the time you've got to my age the race is over. These are my victory laps. There are no rules. I'm not worried about whether I'm going to be competing with 50 Cent. All that pressure is off". Yeah, I remember when he did have to compete with 50 Cent, and it wasn't pretty.

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MUSE START WORK ON FIFTH ALBUM
Muse have revealed that they have begun work on the follow-up to 'Black Holes And Revelation', which was released in 2006. Speaking backstage at Union Chapel, where drummer Dom Howard was playing with Razorlight's Andy Burrows, he told the NME: "We've just started writing songs for the new album. We're right at the tip at the moment and I think the point is that we've been on the road for so long... It's really about getting back together and getting the ball rolling again and seeing whether it'll roll".

Frontman Matt Bellamy added that the band is yet to decide how they will actually release the new songs. He said: "What will come out of that is impossible to say. It may just be albums, but it may be a stream of singles, or it may just be one 50-minute symphony. Who knows?"

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DAFT PUNK START WORK ON FOURTH ALBUM
Also in the studio are Daft Punk, recording the follow-up 2005's 'Human After All' album. So says their former manager and owner of Ed Banger Records Pedro Winter (aka Busy P), anyway.

Speaking to In The Mix, Winter said: "[Daft Punk] are in a studio in Paris at the moment and I can't wait to listen to their new stuff! The good thing is that they are making music at the moment". He added that it might be some time before we see the fruits of their labours: "They are slow, you know. They are taking their time, and they have a right".

Talking about his decision to step down as the duo's manager, Winter said: "I've stopped working with them really recently, because I want to focus and concentrate on Ed Banger and my artists, and my own career as Busy P".

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CALVIN HARRIS RESTARTS WORK ON SECOND ALBUM
Calvin Harris has revealed that he has partially completed ten songs for his second album. As previously reported, the producer was forced to restart work on the album after his only copy was lost amongst luggage at Heathrow Terminal Five.

Writing on his MySpace blog, Harris said: "At the moment I have about ten songs 30% finished, and six songs 60% finished (full vocals count for 40%, in case you think these percentages are embarrassingly low). It's going to be awesome, I'm very excited. Especially with the volume of boringly-produced nasty dance tracks at an all time high right now - it'll be good to come back next year with something interesting, and above all, danceable. Out of the six that will definitely make the album, four are head bangers (in a good way - head nodders sounded too tame) and two are a bit more hands-in-the-air".

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RIHANNA TO WORK WITH RONSON
US r&b star Rihanna has revealed a number of artists she hopes to work with on her next album. She told MSN: "I love Mark Ronson. We've talked about doing something together on my next album". She added that she'd also like to record a song with Amy Winehouse and Duffy. She said: "How amazing would that be? We've all got three different voices, it would be brilliant. Now that would be a feminist anthem. I love Amy. I think she's great, so unique. I love her album. And I also love what Duffy is doing, she's brilliant, as well". If they've all got three different voices, would there be nine voices on the song?

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MANSON STARTS ACTING CAREER
That's Shirley, not Marilyn. The Garbage singer is to appear in US TV show 'Terminator, The Sarah Connor Chronicles' as Catherine Weaver, CEO of Cyberdyne, whatever that it. I presume if you're more familiar with the show or possibly the films than I am, you might know. Manson is also still working on that threatened solo album. Collaborations with the likes of Jack White, Billy Corgan, Beck, and  James Bond soundtrack composer David Arnold are apparently set to appear.

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MACCA REFUNDS OFFERED FOLLOWING OUTCRY
The Liverpool Culture Company has said it will refund 10% of ticket prices for those who paid the top price to attend Paul McCartney's homecoming show in Liverpool on Sunday. Apparently there were complaints because some people who had bought £75 tickets found that they would be seated in the same area as cheaper ticket holders. According to the Liverpool Daily Post, the tickets were put on sale at higher prices to cover mounting costs. Oh dear.

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THOSE DANCING DAYS AUCTION SINGER
"Sweden's coolest girl band", Those Dancing Days, are auctioning a kiss from vocalist Linnea Jonsson, in aid of Unity Day, a free community festival which aims to benefit underprivileged people in the Leeds area. The highest bidder will receive their kiss on stage at the band's Brudenell Social Club gig in Leeds on 3 Jun.

Time is running out to get your bids in. Go here.

Full tour dates are:

2 Jun: Brighton, Audio
3 Jun: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
4 Jun: London, 100 Club
5 Jun: Manchester, Night and Day
6 Jun: Dublin, Future Days

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LEVELLERS AND BEAUTIFUL DAYS NEWS
Long-time CMU favourites The Levellers have announced that they'll headline the Beautiful Days festival, which takes place at Escot Park in Devon from 15 – 17 Aug. Which is hardly a surprise, to be honest, given that it's their own festival. Wish they'd made it happen sometime other than August so I could actually go to it, given all the nice things going on there. You know, art, crafts, kid stuff, real ale, atmosphere. Not to mention this year's acts, which include music types like Squeeze, Supergrass, Seth Lakeman and Alabama 3, as well as the likes of comedian Ross Noble and performance poet John Cooper Clarke. See www.beautifuldays.org for more info.

Meanwhile, the band, who release new single 'Burn America Burn' on Monday as a free download from www.lettersfromtheunderground.com, will be making the following live appearances at a festival near you. And can I go to the Cambridge Folk Festival this year? Please? Well perhaps not, as that seems to be in August this year too, goddamn it.

26 Jun: Glastonbury Festival The Left Field Stage
4 Jul: Guilfest
12 Jul: Arley Hall Northwich
17 Jul: Larmer Tree Festival
1 Aug: Cambridge Folk Festival
3 Aug: Stokes Bay Festival
8 Aug: Cropredy Festival
9 Aug: Harewood House Yorkshire
15 Aug: Beautiful Days Festival
22 Aug: Arundel Castle
30 Aug: Connect Festival
12 Aug: Bowood House
17 Aug: Musicport Festival

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MIKE PATTON AND MELVINS CURATE ATP XMAS SHOW
This year's ATP Nightmare Before Christmas festival in December will be curated by Mike Patton and The Melvins, its organisers have announced. The event will take place 5, 6 and 7 Dec at Butlin's Holiday Camp in Minehead, and The Melvins and Mike Patton's Fantomas, performing their album 'The Director's Cut', will headline. Other artists so far confirmed are Isis, Neil Hamburger, Dalek, Big Business, The Locust and Zu.

More info from www.atpfestival.com/events/nbc2008/

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WAX OFF? WAX:ON!
Having recently announced the cancellation of the Wax:On festival, after key funding was pulled, its organisers have put together a scaled down version to replace it this Saturday. Moving the event from Lotherton Hall in Leeds to the city's Stylus and Pulse venues, a number of acts from the original line-up - Hercules & Love Affair, Late Of The Pier, Erol Alkan and Autokratz - will perform.

More info from www.waxonuk.com

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CARLING LAUNCH DJ CONTEST
Carling have announced the launch of a new competition for DJs, the winners of which will get a place on the decks at the Carling Cold Beer Amnesty at the Rockness Festival or the Isle Of Wight Festival the following week. The brand are asking up and comers to submit a fifteen minute mix, along with their top ten tunes. The two winners, in addition to getting the slot at one of the aforementioned festivals, will also get VIP passes for the relevant festival for them and a friend.  The deadline for submissions for the slot at Rockness (7- 8 Jun) is 1 Jun, and submissions for the Isle of Wight (13 – 15 Jun) slot need to be in by 8 Jun. Demos should be sent to carlingcoldcutsdj@cakegroup.com, and for t&cs and suchlike, see this page here: www.carling.com/music/events/coldcutsDJ.html. Press info is from Cake.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Magic Wands – Black Magic (Ark Recordings)
The Magic Wands are a boy/girl duo based in Nashville who met and initially made music via MySpace. Chris and Dexy Valentine's last single 'Teenage Love' was a lovely, dreamy pop nugget. This single, the follow up is even better. It's deceptively simple, irresistibly poppy, very catchy and manages to be both kitsch and cool. Dominated by a marvellous scuzzy guitar riff, it has hit written all over it. And that's all I have to say on the matter. JW
Release Date: 26 May
Press Contact: Scruffy Bird [all]

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CONSUMER BODY CALLS FOR HONEST TICKET PRICING
A survey carried out by consumer body Which? has found that consumers feel that tickets for musical events are "too high and unclear". The organisation criticised booking agencies for their high booking and postage fees, which may not be apparent until a sale is almost completed, and may also not be refunded if an event is cancelled.

Which? editor Neil Fowler said: "Airlines have taken a bashing recently for adding sneaky extra charges to the cost of tickets, but they're not the only ones – we found ticket agencies hiking the cost of tickets by nearly a third with various fees and postage costs. These charges only become apparent when people are well into the buying process - they should be made clear up front so that people can compare prices properly".

On the not getting a booking fee refund when gigs are cancelled, Nick Blackburn of Seetickets told the NME: "I believe we have the right to retain that booking fee as we have done the work for which we have charged the customer. When we have to refund the customer following cancellation, the cost of that work is covered by the original booking fee and for large concerts or events, this work can be extensive".

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LIVE NATION US LAUNCH FACEBOOK APP
The US bit of live music conglom Live Nation has unveiled a new Facebook application that lets users search for and buy gig tickets from their profile on the social networking platform – basically it's a reworking of the My Live Nation service, though users can share details of the gigs they are going to with their Facebook friends.

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MORE EMI CORPORATE GOSSIP
According to the London Evening Standard, EMI/Terra Firma top man Guy Hands has been overheard discussing options for the future of the major with Samsonite CEO Marcello Bottoli, who Hands is reportedly hoping to persuade to take on the CEO job at the music firm (Hands wanting to take a back seat role once his restructuring is complete). According to the paper's City Spy column, Hands said he was still open to the idea of selling off EMI's recorded music division and just keeping the more profitable (of late) EMI Music Publishing – something one of Terra Firma's rival bidders when the major was up for sale last year were reportedly planning to do. He also reportedly revealed he is considering moving EMI's main US HQ from LA to New York. A Terra Firma spokesman refused to comment on any of that though.

Elsewhere, the New York Post reports that Hands has told his shareholders that he is nearly ready to begin the serious job cuts at EMI Music – up to 2000 are expected to go as a result of the current restructuring, but the overnight cull that has been expected all year has yet to materialise. Most seem to think the job cuts have taken longer than Hands originally intended – some say that's due to a combination of favourable-to-the-employee contracts and European employment laws making it harder to get rid of people than Terra Firma expected, while others say the delay is a budgetary one – ie despite the considerable savings the cull will deliver, the money needs to be in place to pay all those redundancy packages in the short term.

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FRENCH SUPPORT THREE-STRIKES SYSTEM, SAY FRENCH LABELS
A survey in France claims that consumers there support the previously reported "three-strikes" system for tackling P2P file sharing.

As previously reported, some in the music business are advocating a system whereby internet service providers issue warnings to web users who are believed to be illegally sharing unlicenced content, with the threat that if they don't heed the warnings and stop sharing they will have their net access cut off. The only problem is that the ISPs aren't so keen on the idea, and it is likely they would only take on a P2P policing role if forced to do so by government. The French government were the first to indicate they might do so, though the British government have also indicated they will consider such measures if a voluntary system cannot be agreed between the music firms and ISPs by 2009.

With the ISPs sure to fight this all the way if and when either the French or British government put forward serious proposals to make the "three-strike" system law, the French labels' collecting society SCPP are trying to seize the agenda by commissioning some research on popular opinion regarding the proposals. And in the survey conducted by research outfit ISPOS 74% of the 1010 people interviewed said they were either fully or partially supportive of the three-strikes system. 90% said they would stop illegally file sharing after two warnings, while 88% of those who already downloaded music from illegal sources said two warnings would make them change their habits. 80% said they agreed, to some extend, that artists and songwriters should be paid when their songs are downloaded, while 90% said they thought illegal downloading had had a negative impact on CD sales.

French Minister Of Culture Christine Albanel said she welcomed "the sense of responsibility of French people" revealed by the IPSOS research, adding that she knew of US and UK surveys that revealed similar opinions among mainstream consumers.

The three-strike proposals were originally expected to go before the French parliament before the summer, but it now looks more likely that they will be considered by political types in the Autumn.

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EMI PARTNER IN NEW DOWNLOAD KIOSK VENTURE
EMI have announced a partnership with UK company MEDIAnywhere which will let music fans download music from little machines parked in places like, well, mainly airports initially.

The MEDIAnywhere kiosks will allow users to plug in their iPod, MP3 player, mobile or a USB device and download MP3s from EMI's catalogue directly to their player. They can listen to them straight away, and transfer a copy of the tracks back to their PC at a later date. The first kiosks have opened for business, though they're at Italy's Fiumicino airport, and it didn't seem like a particularly good use of CMU's money to fly out there just to try them out. But if they ever set up a kiosk in Old Street tube station, I'll be there, checking out this new download venture on your behalf, that's how committed I am to the cause.

EMI UK digital sales chief Graeme Rogan told CMU: "The MEDIAnywhere kiosks are a fantastically convenient and compellingly simple way for music lovers to get the music they want when they are out and about, without the need to be at their PC".

MEDIAnywhere chief Maxim Ivanov added: "The kiosks are the next step in the future of downloading. Quick, accessible and easy to use, it is the simplest way to get digital music onto your player. As passengers now stock up on books and newspapers before getting on a plane, now they can fill up their player with the freshest music".

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SLICETHEPIE TEAMS UP WITH GIBSON
Slicethepie, the website which enables musicians to raise money direct from their fans, similar to Sellaband, has announced a new partnership with Gibson Guitars. The site will run a search for the best UK guitar band, with the winner receiving a Gibson Les Paul guitar and £15,000 of funding to record and market an album.

David Courtier-Dutton, Slicethepie founder, said: "We are really excited to have one of the iconic symbols of rock n roll supporting Slicethepie. If funding for a debut album wasn't incentive enough, a Gibson Les Paul guitar should appeal to all guitar bands serious about their art".

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NME REVAMP MOBILE CONTENT OFFER
NME is relaunching its mobile platform through a partnership with InfoMedia. The new service will include a searchable gig guide, news and reviews, music and video downloads, discounts to Club NME, and other mobile type nonsense.

IPC's Head Of Mobile Development Miles Ross told reporters: "Mobile is becoming a key medium through which users access music and the music world. We took the decision to redevelop the off-portal service so that we could build in the mechanics which would enable us to provide more value to both users and advertisers". I think I understood at least half of that.

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GCAP ROCK REPORTEDLY SELL PLANET ROCK
Radio group GCap have sold Planet Rock, the digital station whose future has been in the air ever since GCap CEO Fru Hazlitt announced she was axing the group's digital only output earlier this year. Sister station theJazz was closed down straight away but, as it became clear a Global Radio takeover of GCap was inevitable, and that Hazlitt herself would be axed as a result, the digital rock station was given a reprieve, during which time at least two potential buyers approached the radio conglom about acquiring it. According to reports, GCap has now accepted one of those offers, though not the previously reported offer backed by Queen man Brian May.

We know this because May has blogged about it on his website www.brianmay.com. He writes: "Our chaps have been pressing on with GCap's lawyers, finalising the arrangements, the principles having been agreed a few weeks ago, but, out of the blue, we heard a rumour that someone else was involved, and this morning someone 'unofficially' confirmed that rumour. We have no idea if the people who have bought Planet Rock plan to keep it running or not. I guess we can just hope that it will still be 'saved', but without us ... It's such a shame ... we had such plans ... Well, there ya go. Thanks GCap. Thanks for a load of wasted time. Well, it's still a small world".

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ABSOLUTE CLOSE TO SECURING JACK FM
Talking of radio station sales, reports suggest that radio company Absolute Radio is close to buying Virgin Radio off SMG, who have been talking about selling the national rock station for sometime. Word also has it that while Absolute would get Virgin's national AM and London FM licence, they wouldn't get the licence to use the Virgin name (because Absolute's parent company and the Virgin Group have interests in competing media firms in India, or something), which would revert to Richard Branson's Virgin Group, meaning the whole shebang would have to relaunch under another name. There were rumours that Absolute would relaunch it under the Jack FM banner – the US radio brand Absolute are already using in Oxford – but it now seems unlikely, possibly because most of the country couldn't get it on FM. 

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Dresden Dolls – No, Virginia (Roadrunner)
I have mixed feelings about The Dresden Dolls - who tend to fuse something magnificent with something that can be downright terrible. I'm not talking about their mixing up of Brechtian/Weilian sultry cabaret pyrotechnics with the ramshackle aggro spit of punk and hardcore. More the lyrics that they sometimes put on top of their wonderful aesthetic musical template. Although musically and visually The Dresden Dolls are stunning to behold, I sometimes wonder if their lyrics might leave more sophisticated music fans somewhat unsatisfied. I mean, who really relates to the line "I joke about sex because it's funny when you're frightened"? But that aside, the band are musically and conceptually impeccable: Amanda Palmer wields a fiery piano and her voice is both sweet and full of spite – somewhere between Tori Amos and Ute Lemper. Brian Viglione's drumming is impressively pounding and the interplay between the two is explosively tight and empathetic. This collection of B-sides, demos and outtakes plays like as much of an album as any of the Dolls' previous, but perhaps it tips too heavily the wrong side of the Dolls ingredients scale - those questionably lyrics. Probably not a good gateway for newcomers then - while fans of the band's style might not get the insight into the band's development that those collections of old tracks sometimes afford - although the inclusion of the sheet music for all the songs here and on the ostensible companion album, 'Yes, Virginia' will probably make the purchase worthwhile for many. AM
Release Date: 2 Jun
Press Contact: All Press [all]

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FIDDY IS THE NEW SIRALAN
50 Cent is apparently set to appear in a new reality show in which fans are given a shot at fame, Apprentice-style. The rapper will oversee the progress of sixteen contestants, all attempting to follow in his footsteps, with one eliminated each week – I wonder if it will take the form of an Alan Sugar style dismissal? I don't think Fiddy's going to give them a job, though, the prize is reportedly a full scholarship to a graduate or undergraduate course.

Oh, and don't all go writing in saying I should have said "the new Donald Trump".

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YES, THEY WERE LYING, ASHLEE IS PREGNANT
According to reports, Ashlee Simpson is in fact pregnant by new husband, Fall Out Boy star Pete Wentz. You'll remember that everyone kept asking them if they were pregnant a while back, around the time they got engaged, and they kept saying they weren't. Well, they are. The pair announced via Wentz's blog that "we wanted to wait until after the first trimester to officially confirm that we are expecting our first child". Which is, to my mind, entirely fair enough.

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PRESTON ENGAGED AGAIN
Now, you know us, we're not ones to gossip, but it does seem that that Ordinary Boy Samuel Preston is engaged again. He was photographed yesterday walking hand in hand with his new girlfriend, who did appear to be wearing an engagement ring. Now, if you've not been following this riveting story, Preston was engaged to a girl called Camille, but shunned her in favour of Celebrity Big Brother co-star Chantelle Houghton, who he married in August 2006 and divorced in November 2007. He wants to be careful, or people will start to say he has a habit of rushing into things. Not us, though, obviously.

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