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Top Stories

Retail doom and gloom part one: Zavvi
Retail doom and gloom part two: Woolies
Retail doom and gloom part three: any silver lining?
Dre Junior died of accidental overdose
John Lennon to speak up for laptop campaign
In The Pop Courts
Claims against Bronfman over Warner purchase dismissed
P2P lawyer calls for court case to be streamed
Pop Politics
Annie Lennox backs call on Israel to end Gaza assault
No Woman, No Cry writer dies
Former Foreigner manager dies
New Model Army manager dies
Awards & Contests
UK Eurovision contenders chosen
Brits launch line up announced
Charts, Stats & Polls
Elbow tops HMV's poll of polls on 2008 albums
Fleet Foxes named Billboard album of 08
Mamma Mia! the best selling DVD ever
Quo score most UK arena dates in 2008
In The Studio
Prince planning to release three albums this year
Enemy are recording a huge sound for album two
Mongrel plan to record in Venezuela
Release News
Wilco live DVD set for release
Gigs N Tours News
Manumission visits London for last Astoria party
The Music Business
Ticketmaster defend add-on ticket resale service
The Media Business
Four/Five merger would be blocked
Andy Parfitt adds popular music to his BBC remit
Talk 107 closes
Chart Of The Day
Chart update
And finally...
Perry splits from her Gym Class Hero
Britney introduces new boyfriend to the family
Lots of music people in the CBB house

Andre hopes for hit album in 09

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Other than continuing retail doom and gloom (more on which in a minute), the other big music business story to break since your last CMU Daily of 2008 is the falling out between Warner Music and YouTube which has seen videos owned by the former removed from the latter.

In case you weren't paying attention, Warner ordered the removal of its videos off YouTube on 22 Dec, saying negotiations regarding the renewal of the licensing agreement between the two companies had faltered because, the major record company claimed, the Google firm wasn't offering a fair deal. YouTube responded by saying it continued to talk to the major and that it hoped a deal would be done. As of this morning Warner's content is still not available via the video site.


Insiders say that Warner, the first major to enter into a licensing agreement with YouTube back in 2006, is unhappy with the revenues it receives from the site despite the massive traffic the video service generates, particularly for music content. Warner reportedly claims YouTube income accounts for just 1% of its overall digital revenue.

According to some reports, Warner is demanding a larger ongoing royalty and another upfront fee as part of the new licensing deal. While YouTube will consider the former it won't agree on the latter - and that, it's claimed, has caused the conflict and the removal of Warner's content. YouTube insiders argue it is still early days for their service, and that while advertising revenues are going up, and will continue to rise, at the moment once you take into account the costs of operating such a high capacity on-demand streaming service there just isn't any more money available.

Either way, surely neither side can really afford for this dispute to carry on for too long. While Warner may be disappointed with its YouTube revenues, surely something is better than nothing. And such licensing revenues - big or small - are increasingly important to record companies as traditional record sale revenues continue to decline, and Warner won't want to be excluded from the biggest online video platform for too long. YouTube, meanwhile, made much of its plans to operate the biggest video jukebox on the net when it first reach agreements with the record companies, and to be missing a catalogue as big as that owned by Warner Music (which affects tracks from both artists in the Warner recordings catalogue and songwriters in the Warner Chappell publishing catalogue) really hinders that ambition.

Meanwhile, what does all this tell us about YouTube's ability to turn their mega-traffic into advertising cash? Pessimistic bloggers suggest that Warner's decision to pull its videos, coupled with Google's vagueness regarding YouTube ad revenues, suggests even the biggest boy of the internet is struggling to transform undeniable consumer appetite into a viable commercial business model.

That might be true, though, interestingly, Warner's withdrawal from YouTube came just days after the Exec VP of Universal Music Group's eLabs division, Rio Caraeff, told CNet that YouTube was generating tens of millions of dollars of new revenues for his company. While Universal is much bigger than Warner, the difference in opinion about the value of a YouTube relationship between the two music firms is a bit weird. Either Warner are understating YouTube's impact, or Universal are exaggerating it, or Doug Morris' Universal Music scored a much more favourable deal off the video website. All three are possible.


Alela Diane's 2006 album 'The Pirate's Gospel' was many influential music types' record of that year, it being a rich, subtle introduction to her powering voice and immense song-writing talent. Not to be outdone, last year she lent her talents to the Headless Heroes equally excellent LP, a collection of covers of standard bearers and curios, including Daniel Johnston's 'True Love With Find You In The End' and Jesus and Mary Chain's 'Just Like Honey'. Back with new solo material in Feb 2009, entitled 'To Be Still', expect Diane to be featuring near the top of the important yearly countdowns come December.




So, the biggest music industry story over the Christmas break was, unsurprisingly, in the retail domain as, on Christmas Eve, high street music seller Zavvi confirmed it was going into administration.

The news will have surprised no one really, closely following, as it did, the closure of Woolworths and its music distribution sister company eUK and the collapse of independent music distributor Pinnacle. Declining CD sales, increasing competition from supermarkets and online mail order websites, coupled with the credit crunch and recession mean times are tough in music retail just now. And the Woolies situation, of course, impacted on Zavvi directly because eUK was the retail chain's principle supplier.

eUK's liquidation forced Zavvi to close its online operations in the middle of the pre-Christmas rush, and also meant the retailer had to start negotiating credit terms with other distributors and record companies directly. Given rumours Zavvi was eUK's biggest debtor, it was going to be hard to negotiate workable terms with cautious suppliers.

Meanwhile, as Woolworths and eUK moved into full on liquidation, its administrators - Deloitte - would presumably start making demands regarding payment of Zavvi's debts.

All of this sent Zavvi to and over the brink, just in time for Christmas. Ernst & Young, already called in to advise on the company's financial difficulties, became the company's administrators. They are now going through the motions. It's not yet clear if there is any interest in the Zavvi brand or any of its stores - though the former seems unlikely given it is a relatively new name on the high street, and hardly one that caught the public's imagination.

There is no word on if and when Zavvi stores will start to close (some closures had already been scheduled prior to the administration, and those are likely to go ahead) though 69 employees at the retailer's London HQ were made redundant last week.

Media attention regarding the Zavvi story quickly turned to the notice the company's administrators issued on Christmas Eve, and in particular the section announcing that Zavvi vouchers would no longer be accepted in store. Coming at Christmas time, when such vouchers were presumably dished out as presents all over the country, this was a good tabloid story. Those holding Zavvi vouchers have been told to send them to the company's administrators with their name and address.

Those with vouchers sold after 27 Nov are likely to get a cash payment equal to the vouchers' value because, with the future of the company looking dodgy, at that point Zavvi bosses put any money spent on vouchers in a trust fund. Refunds on vouchers sold before 27 Nov, however, are less assured - owners of them will be added to the longer list of creditors and will have to wait some time to see whether they will see any cash from any sale or liquidation of the company.

It's not clear what Zavvi's situation will mean for the Richard Branson's Virgin Group, who maintained some links with the former Virgin Megastore chain after the management buyout which created Zavvi in 2007. In particular, it's believed Virgin guaranteed some of Zavvi's credit accounts, including that with eUK, and that they still hold the leases of some of the retail chain's stores. Virgin Mobile, meanwhile, continued to use some Zavvi stores in order to have a high street presence.

If no buyer is found Branson could find himself footing some of Zavvi's debts. That said, it could be a small price to pay. While the youthful Zavvi's credit worthiness may have caused its actual downfall, it is likely the Megastore would have been struggling too had Virgin retained ownership. But Branson may have felt the need to prop the retail enterprise up in a bid to stop one of his most high profile businesses becoming a high profile victim of the recession. The management buyout that created Zavvi definitely did Branson a favour, even if he is left footing some of the bills run up by those managers.

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As Zavvi announced it was in administration, the closure of the Woolworths empire began. Everything but the kitchen sink was sold, and had any sinks been easily removable from staff rooms, they'd probably have sold them too. Certainly high street punters could buy shelving if they so wished.

As the one time biggest seller of music in the UK closed its doors for the final time, former staff from the retailer's stores on the Channel Island of Jersey hit out after they learned they would not received any redundancy pay. Administrators informed former employees that statutory redundancy payouts paid to staff on the mainland were not applicable on Jersey. Staff have petitioned the administrators, but it seems unlikely it will result in any additional payments being made. So much so Jersey politician Geoff Southern has called on the island's government to put aside £140,000 to provide aid to those former Woolies staff facing no work without compensation.

Elsewhere in the world of Woolies, the liquidation of the firm's distribution business eUK continues, with news last week that some of its former suppliers, including record company EMI, are preparing legal action in order to get their hands on stock still sitting in the dead company's warehouses. The entertainment firms not only want the return of stock that has not been paid for (as is their automatic right) but also paid-for stock in lieu of debts. The legal action is to stop administrators Deloitte from selling those goods for a quick buck on the basis a return of stock will mean the losses incurred by the entertainment congloms as a result of eUK's collapse will be less.

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So, what does the future hold for HMV? On the upside, one of their biggest high street competitors is no more, and their other big rival is facing closure. On the down side, everyone's going round saying music retail is dead in the water.

Needless to say, HMV are remaining upbeat in their public announcements, and have followed up Woolies and Zavvi's very public demise with news of a revamp of two shops in their mini Fopp network. HMV, of course, acquired a handful of the Fopp stores after the indie retailer went under in 2007. This weekend they announced that the Fopp stores in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the indie brand's original home, will be overhauled to introduce instore download facilities plus ticket and gadget sales.

HMV's Gennaro Castaldo told reporters: "You'll still find a comprehensive range of music, films and home entertainment. But we'll now introduce social hubs where you can access your favourite music sites or MP3 kiosks to download new songs. Using chip-and-pin technology you can listen to virtually every bit of music that is digitally available. If you like it you can keep it and the cost will vary between 59p and 79p a track. Many young people download at home but we don't want them to be a lost generation. We'd like them to come into our stores and treat them as more of a social space to hang out. We're keen to keep the whole spirit of Fopp alive. We want to keep the indie essence and Scottish roots of the store - but run it independently from HMV".

Elsewhere in music retail, and for those that reckon Woolies and Zavvi's demise marks the beginning of the end for the CD and DVD formats, online mail order site has reported a 24% increase in like-for-like sales this Christmas. Sales of Take That's 'The Circus' CD and the 'Mamma Mia' DVD helped with the boost in the four months leading up to Christmas. As much previously commented, it is the increasing popularity of the often price-cutting mail-order websites like Amazon and more so than an overall decline in CD sales or rise in digital downloads that has made things so difficult for UK-based high street CD/DVD sellers in recent years. The privately owned revealed the boost in its sales in a bid to prove that big names in the online retail sector are not suffering from the good old credit crunch in the way their high street rivals are.

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Dr Dre's twenty year old son Andre Young Jr died from an accidental overdose of heroin and morphine, according to the LA Country Coroner, who has just ruled on the cause of the producer's son's death. As previously reported, Young Jr was founded dead by his mother at the family's LA home last August.

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I've always thought it was a shame John Lennon didn't live to see the arrival of the internet - I can't help thinking he'd have found many interesting ways to use it for his creative and political projects. Despite his premature death nearly three decades ago, the late Beatle will nevertheless front a new advertising campaign designed to bring digital technology to some of the poorest people in the world.

Thanks to some of that digital technology, Lennon will be seen encouraging people to support the US-based One Laptop Per Child campaign which hopes to raise funds to buy heavy duty, solar powered laptop computers for children in some of the world's poorest countries.

An image of Lennon will say: "Imagine every child no matter where in the world they were could access a universe of knowledge. They would have a chance to learn, to dream, to achieve anything they want. I tried to do it through my music, but now you can do it in a very different way. You can give a child a laptop and more than imagine, you can change the world".

The One Laptop Per Child Foundation was created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and started producing the special XO laptop late last year at a manufacturing cost per machine of less than $200.

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A New York court has dismissed that previously reported lawsuit launched by one Richard Snyder against Warner Music top man Edgar Bronfman Jr regarding the defendant's acquisition of the major record company in 2003.

Snyder, a former CEO of publisher Simon & Schuster, claimed he co-conceived the purchase of Warner Music off former owners Time Warner with Bronfman, and that there was a gentleman's agreement he would receive a cut of any profits made as a result of the purchase. Bronfman, Snyder alleged, had reneged on that agreement.

Four of Snyder's six claims against the Warner boss in his 2007 lawsuit were dismissed back in April last year, but two remained - unjust enrichment and quantum meruit (the latter the argument Synder was at least owed something for his services in planning the acquisition). An appellate court considered those two claims just before Christmas and promptly dismissed them.

Bronfman's lawyer, Orin Snyder (no relation to the plaintiff I don't think) told reporters: "This unanimous decision is a complete victory for Mr. Bronfman - so much so that the Court imposed court costs on Dick Snyder. We are gratified that the appellate court vindicated Mr. Bronfman and repudiated Dick Snyder's bogus claims".

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The Recording Industry Association Of America may have announced it is moving away from excessive litigation in relation to its battle against online piracy, but some unresolved lawsuits continue, and one lawyer involved in defending one such case has called for the court hearing relating to it to be streamed on the internet.

Harvard law professor Charles Nesson has been planning the defence for Boston University student Joel Tenenbaum who is being sued by SonyBMG and the RIAA for alleged file sharing. Nesson was recently quoted thus: "Given the keen interest of the diverse parties following this litigation closely, and the potential learning value of this case to a broad audience beyond, this case presents an ideal instance in which judicial discretion should be exercised under the auspices of the rule to admit internet to the courtroom".

It could be that Nesson genuinely wants such court cases to be streamed out of academic interest. Or it could be a tactic to persuade the now lawsuit-cautious RIAA to drop its litigation against Tenenbaum. While US copyright law is generally on the RIAA's side when it comes to illegal file sharing, various technicalities have caused some problems when specific cases have gone to court in the past.

I don't think the judge overseeing the case has commented on Nesson's proposals. Perhaps he just doesn't care what Nesson thinks - the Harvard prof won't be able to actually defend Tenenbaum in court because he's not licensed in the state where the case will be heard.

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Annie Lennox has added her voice to the opposition growing to the mini-war Israel instigated against Gaza over the Christmas break. As you presumably know, Israel have begun a full on bombing campaign against Gaza, saying it is responding to the regular albeit ad hoc firing of missiles into their territory by Palestinians. A full on land assault followed this weekend.

Lennox was one of a number of campaigners and c'lebs present at a press conference in London which called on Israel to stop the military action and return to that much abused negotiating table. Lennox told reporters: "A few days after Christmas I came downstairs, put the television on and saw smoke pyres emanating from buildings and it shook me to the core. I was thinking, as a mother and as a human being, how was this going to be a solution to peace? It's a question of human rights, human values that goes beyond Jewish, Muslim, nothing to do with any of that. There has to be a place ultimately where people come to the table".

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The songwriter behind the Bob Marley classic 'No Woman, No Cry' has died in Jamaica aged 68. Vincent Ford lost a long battle to diabetes.

There has been much debate regarding the penning of 'No Woman, No Cry', which first appeared on Marley's 1974 album 'Natty Dread'. Ford, a long time friend of Marley's, is credited alone, though many think Marley actually wrote at least the melody. They argue the reggae legend let his friend, already disabled by diabetes, have the full credit so to give him a guaranteed income. Ford is also credited on three songs on Marley's 1976 album 'Rastaman Vibration'.

Royalties from the songs not only helped support Ford, but also the soup kitchen he founded and ran in the Trench Town ghetto in Kingston, a facility that still operates today. Ford is survived by two children.

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Veteran artist manager Bud Prager, probably best known for managing Foreigner, died of esophageal cancer on 22 Dec, he was 79.

Prager co-founded his music company Windfall, which would go on to have recording, publishing, management and production divisions, with Cream producer Felix Pappalardi in the sixties. He brought together the seventies rock outfit Mountain, and then the supergroup of sorts West, Bruce And Laing, which combined two members of Mountain with Cream's Jack Bruce. But it was as manager of Foreigner, from 1976 through to the early nineties, that Prager scored the most success. Despite an all round lack of label interest, he managed to secure a deal with Atlantic that would result in millions of record sales.

In the late nineties he managed metallers Megadeth, and continued to be involved in the careers of numerous rock acts as boss of ESP Management up until his death.

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The manager of New Model Army and The Almighty, Tommy Tee, died suddenly just before Christmas after suffering from a thoracic aortic dissection. He was only 46.

Tee began working with New Model Army in 1982, initially as a driver and then as tour manager. He left to manage The Almighty in 1990, signing them to Polydor, before returning to work with NMA in 1996 as their overall manager.

An early advocate of the power of the internet for established bands, he helped NMA to self-release new material ensuring them ownership and control over their recordings, publishing rights and merchandise. He was known for his hands-on approach, always helping to load the band's tour van and stuff envelopes despite his primary role as deal maker for a self-releasing band with an increasingly worldwide fanbase. He leaves a wife and three children.

Commenting on Tee's sudden death, NMA frontman Justin Sullivan told CMU: "Tommy's death leaves a huge hole in all our lives, not just professionally as the man who organised every aspect of the band's life but most especially as a friend and the best kind of road companion. And this sense of loss increases rather than decreases with each day that passes".

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The six musical outfits set to compete to represent Grand Bretagne in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 have already been announced following the BBC's decision to get the whole Eurovision bandwagon moving sooner this year. Two male and two female solo artists will compete with a twin-sister duo and all-male fivesome to represent the UK at the big Contest in Moscow next May. Andrew Lloyd Webber will write the song that the winners will sing.

The earlier outing for the Eurovision franchise, plus Lloyd Webber's involvement as songwriter in chief, are all part of the UK team's bid to, well, at least not come last this time. Last year, of course, Andy Abraham's performance of 'Even If', penned by Abraham, Paul Wilson and Andy Watkins and chosen by the viewer voted pre-Eurovision TV UK song contest, came last with just 14 points.

The hopefuls hoping to sing the UK Eurovision song this year were unveiled on a BBC1 show on Saturday night. For reasons I'm not sure of, the official 'Eurovision Your Country Needs You' website doesn't want us to know the surnames of the contenders, so I can only tell you the solo artists are called Charlotte, Jade, Damien and Mark. The twins go by the name of, well, The Twins, a moniker which worked wonders when former 'Neighbours' twins Gayle & Gillian Blakeney attempted a pop career in the early nineties. The quintet call themselves Emperors Of Soul.

A series of programmes will now air on the BBC over the next couple of months so that the winners are chosen in time for Lloyd Webber to work with them on that 'not last place' of a song.

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I'm pretty sure that in decades to come a graduate student will opt to write a research paper on why it was that in latter part of the first decade of the 21st century Fearne Cotton, without doubt one of the worst presenters in British broadcasting history, and the frontwoman of more failed TV shows you could begin to mention, continued to get work. Of course such student will presumably quickly discover the majority of TV executives in the UK at this time are men of a certain age, and will possibly, in that there discovery, have their answer. It won't make much of a thesis. Still, such is the future of postgraduate study in Great Britain.

Anyway, I digress. Talent vacuum Fearne Cotton will host the BRIT Nominations Party which will take place on 20 Jan at the Roundhouse in Camden, and which will be aired on ITV2 on the same night. Organisers have confirmed the launch show will include live performances from Scouting For Girls, Gabriella Cilmi and Brits Critics Choice winner Florence & The Machine, who, by the way, recently signed to Universal's Island Records.

Confirming the line up for the Launch, Brits Committee chair Ged Doherty told CMU: "The Nominations Launch party has firmly established itself as a major night for music in its own right. It's a great platform for Florence And The Machine to show why she has won the Critics Choice Award this year, while the presence of Gabriella Cilmi and Scouting For Girls will ensure a vibrant and exciting night for all. We thank ITV for their continued support".

The Brits themselves take place on 18 Feb.

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Elbow's Mercury winning 'The Seldom Seen Kid' was UK music critics' favourite album of 2008, or so says HMV's poll of polls, which combines the votes of music journalists with the opinions of its own staff and online customers. Or some such. Portishead's comeback album 'Third' was, well, second, while Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds' 'Dig Lazurus Dig' was third. Actually, why I am I wasting time being all prosaic about this? Here's the full top ten.

1. The Seldom Seen Kid - Elbow
2. Third - Portishead
3. Dig, Lazarus, Dig - Nick Cave
4. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
5. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
6. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
7. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
8. Bon Iver - For Emma Forever Ago
9. Glasvegas - Glasvegas
10. Hot Chip - Made In The Dark
Source: HMV

Commenting on their survey, HMV Rock & Pop Buyer Damian Evans told reporters: "The poll reflects an excellent, eclectic year in music. Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend, MGMT and Bon Iver have really made their mark with wonderful debut albums, underlining how vibrant the music scene is right now. Established artists such as Portishead and Nick Cave have also returned to great acclaim, although I suspect few people would dispute that Elbow have given us the album of the year".

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If you'd rather know what US music pundits reckoned was the best album of 2008, well, critics at American trade mag Billboard named Fleet Foxes' eponymous debut their album of the year. The Seattle-based band were, as you presumably read for yourself, fourth in the HMV poll of polls.

The Billboard accolade follows news that the June release has scored UK indie label Bella Union their first gold record after the album shifted over 100,000 units in the UK. Bella Union handled the UK release of the long player, released by Sub Pop in the US, via their partnership with Universal Music's indie label partnership network Co-Op Music.

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While I fell asleep while trying to watch 'Mamma Mia!' this Christmas (and, I should add, I'm quite a fan of the Abba catalogue), I'm seemingly in the minority regarding my lack of enthusiasm for the film version of the Abba musical.

'Mamma Mia!' has become the biggest selling UK DVD of all time with 5 million units having been sold since its relatively recent release in November. This means one in four UK households owns a copy. It was far and away the biggest selling DVD of 2008 (next biggest seller 'The Dark Knight' sold 1.5 million units), and has already outsold the previous best selling DVD in Britain, the first 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' movie.

Official Chart Company MD Martin Talbot confirmed 'Mamma Mia's bestseller status, and told CMU: "Right from its release, Mamma Mia! has been a record breaker. This latest landmark further underlines the popularity of the movie, which is now officially the British public's favourite DVD of all time".

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Live music stats now, and Status Quo have been named the hardest working band in British pop after performing 35 arena dates in the UK in 2008 in front of 300,000 fans. That's the most arena dates from one band last year, according to a survey by royalty body PRS. The Quo were closely followed by Take That in terms of arena performances, the reformed man band having performed 34 such dates last year. Kaiser Chiefs, Sugababes and the temporarily reformed Spice Girls were also in the arena date top five in 2008.

But the real hard work surely takes place in the smaller venues. The list of the busiest artists performing in smaller concert halls was also dominated by veteran acts - with Gerry And The Pacemakers, David Essex and Chas & Dave apparently leading the field.

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Last stats of the day, and not-reforming-with-his-old-band-OK Led Zepp frontman Robert Planet has been voted the greatest voice in rock music in a poll organised by digital radio station Planet Rock. The complete top twenty top rock wailers were as follows:

1. Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin)
2. Freddie Mercury (Queen)
3. Paul Rodgers (Free/Bad Company)
4. Ian Gillan (Deep Purple)
5. Roger Daltrey (The Who)
6. David Coverdale (Whitesnake)
7. Axl Rose (Guns N Roses)
8. Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)
9. Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones)
10. Bon Scott (AC/DC)
11. David Bowie
12. Jon Bon Jovi (Bon Jovi)
13. Steven Tyler (Aerosmith)
14. Jon Anderson (Yes)
15. Bruce Springsteen
16. Joe Cocker
17. Ozzy Osbourne (Black Sabbath)
18. Bono (U2)
19. Peter Gabriel
20. James Hetfield (Metallica)

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Prince is planning on releasing three albums this year, and without involving a record company, in the US at least, where he says he is in talks with a major retailer about them exclusively distributing the releases.

Prince, of course, courted controversy in 2007 when his album 'Planet Earth', distributed by Sony in most territories, was given away as a covermount CD by the Mail On Sunday in the UK. Exclusivity deals with one retailer, normally for a certain time period, were once a little bit controversial in the North American market, but have become quite common of late with many artists doing deals with major retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy. It's not clear which retailer Prince is talking to in the US, nor whether a more conventional distribution partnership with a major record company will be forged elsewhere.

According to the LA Times, four new guitar-heavy Prince tracks premiered on LA radio station Indie 103 last month will appear on the first of his new albums, to be called 'Lotus Flower'. The paper's Ann Powers, who visited the singer's home to hear other new material, wrote on the paper's website: "Needless to say, it was an amazing experience".

She says the second new album will contrast with the guitar sound of the first by returning to "the electronic sound of When Doves Cry", while the third will be a seductive soulful collection of songs. The latter, Powers reports, is a collaboration between Prince and his new protégé Bria Valente, and was recorded because they "got sick of waiting for Sade to make a new album".

Whether all three projects really do see light of day this year remains to be seen.

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The Enemy's Tom Clarke has said his band have captured a "huge sound" on their second album, whatever that means. Speaking about the work he and his bandmates have put in to their second longplayer - they've been busy recording in Wales - Clarke told the Star: "We know we are making something good so there's no need for second album nerves. Just imagine the first record has grown a set of bollocks and has got some stubble. It's more worldly and the tunes have more depth. We wanted it to sound huge".

Clarke also commented on the fact he'll get to support Oasis on their UK stadium tour next summer. He told the tab: "Noel Gallagher is my hero of the year for asking us to support him. Everyone expects us to be nervous but the bigger the event, the bigger the thrill. Nerves don't come into it. You get a massive shot of adrenaline - that's the pay-off. We're going to go on, play our gig, get our rush of adrenaline and then go watch Oasis and Kasabian - what a shit job!" That last bit's irony I think.

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Mongrel, the group featuring Babyshambler Drew McConnell, former Arctic Monkey Andy Nicholson and Reverend Jon McLure, are planning a trip to Venezuela to make music with the help of the country's president Hugo Chavez.

Speaking to 6Music, McClure said of the band, who release their debut album next month: "The Mongrel thing is just going to roll and roll, we've got plans to go and do a second record out in Venezuela with Hugo Chavez. Their culture's kind of exploded and Chavez has put a lot of his wealth into restoring the indigenous culture and stuff".

He continued: "We're going to do a kind of Buena Vista Social Club style thing out there with some of their drummers, and hip hop people and horn sections and stuff. It should be fun man. Venezuela is like the new Jamaica, or Brazil, or Cuba, it's kicking off".

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Wilco are to release a live DVD entitled 'Ashes Of American Flags', in February or March this year, according to Billboard. The release contains footage recorded at the Nashville Ryman Auditorium and the Tulsa Cain Ballroom in February 2008. The band's next studio album is also due later in 2009.

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Ibizan institution Manumission is to visit London this month for the Astoria closing party, to be held at the venue on 15 Jan. It all kicks off at 10.30pm, and tickets are priced at £25. A full line up for the event is still to be announced. Central London venue the Astoria is due to be demolished, of course, as part of the Cross Rail development around Tottenham Court Road tube station.

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Ticketmaster has defended its expansion into the secondary ticketing business.

As previously reported, the ticketing giant last year bought two ticket resale websites, TicketsNow in North America and Get Me In Here in the UK. This despite opposition in parts of the live music industry towards the growth of online ticket touting, and resentment by some promoters towards the online auction services which allow punters to resell tickets for a profit.

Since acquiring TicketsNow, the Ticketmaster website in the US and Canada will redirect consumers to the auction service for concerts it is not selling tickets to or for which it has sold out its allocation. The Consumers' Association Of Canada recently said that that was wrong, because it meant that customers who think they are buying tickets from a legitimate agency when they go to the Ticketmaster website may in fact end up buying a marked-up ticket from a dodgy tout via the TicketsNow platform. The CAC's Vice-President Mel Fruitman told reporters: "It's a conflict, it's a monopoly, it's unconscionable. It may not be illegal, but it sure is immoral and unethical as far as I'm concerned".

Ticketmaster VP Joe Freeman disagrees. He responded by telling reporters he thought the link through to TicketsNow provided added value for consumers looking for tickets for shows no longer available via primary ticket sellers, adding that online touting was a good thing because it saved customers the hassle of having to go to the venue on the off chance they can buy secondary tickets on the street. He added that TicketsNow offered protection to punters buying tickets via resellers.

He told reporters: "If you're buying a ticket from a guy under the overpass by the Air Canada Centre, you don't know if those are going to be valid tickets until you're in the door. We're trying to bring a much higher level of consumer protection to the whole resale space".

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Media research firm Enders Analysis says it reckons any plans to merge Channel 4 and Five would be blocked by the Competition Commission, not because the merger of a privately and publicly owned broadcaster would be confusing, but because a combined C4 and C5 would be too dominant in the TV advertising space.

A Four/Five merger has been mooted a number of times in recent years as the debate on how Channel 4 will be able to afford to fulfill its public service obligations in an increasingly competitive advertising market has rumbled on. It's not top of the list of options for securing Channel 4's future, though it is still discussed from time to time, and recent reports have suggested Five owners RTL have considered proposing a takeover.

The Enders Analysis report says any Four/Five merger would need Competition Commission approval. They point out concerns recently expressed by the Commission regarding the proposals to launch a combined BBC/ITV/C4 on-demand video service - so called Project Kangaroo. Enders reckon the Commission would be similarly concerned regarding any Four/Five deal.

As previously reported, Channel Four bosses seemingly favour proposals by which they would receive a cut of the licence fee to help the broadcaster continue to operate. Licence money would be used alongside commercial revenues. The BBC, however, strongly object to that idea, preferring to waste all that licence fee money all on their own. The BBC proposed other ways they could assist C4, most of which were rejected by their rivals - except for the proposal the Beeb made most reluctantly, giving C4 some claim to part of the Corporation's commercial division BBC Worldwide. OfCom, who also reportedly don't favour giving C4 a cut of the TV licence, are currently considering all proposals regarding to future of public service broadcasting in the commercial domain.

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The BBC announced just before Christmas that Andy Parfitt, Radio 1 chief and head of the Corporation's yoof output, will become Controller of BBC Popular Music.

The role was previously undertaken by Lesley Douglas, the Radio2/6Music chief who quit, of course, following the whole Sachsgate affair. Parfitt, who had taken on the role on a temporary basis since Douglas' sudden departure, will be Popular Music chief in addition to his current role overseeing Radio 1, 1Xtra, the Asian Network and BBC Switch. He will also oversee the Electric Proms enterprise. He must be a very busy chap.

Parfitt had been linked to Douglas' main old job as head of Radio 2, but he has reportedly said he is not interested in that role.

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UTV owned Edinburgh talk station Talk 107 went off the air just before Christmas, a day earlier than expected. It was a quiet end for the two year old station, which UTV announced it would close back on 17 Dec having failed to find a buyer for its Scottish FM licence, despite talk of a management buyout. Some reckon UTV had hoped to expand the 'Talk' brand (it also owns TalkSport) through a new Talk station on the Channel 4 Radio digital multiplex that, in the end, never happened. When the national digital option disappeared interest in the local Edinburgh version of the franchise disappeared with it.

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So what, you ask, has been going on in chart land while we've all been off scoffing mince pies and such like? Well, not much to be honest, with the X-Factor continuing to dominate the singles chart where new winner Alexandra Burke is still numero uno with her version of 'Hallelujah', while former winner Leona Lewis is still at number two with her version of 'Run'.

With downloaders everywhere presumably using their Christmas iTunes vouchers and topping up on hits they missed in 2008, there's a few re-entries in the Top 40 with Coldplay, MGMT and Dizzee Rascal all re-appearing. New entries proper come from Akon collaborator Lady Gaga with 'Just Dance' at 3, Sugababes with 'No Can Do' at 24 (which was in the chart the previous week at 83 on download-only sales) and Girls Aloud, who go in at 39 with the download-only sales of their new track 'The Loving Kind'.

Albums wise Take That still lead with 'The Circus', followed by Kings Of Leon and Duffy who each rise a spot or two to complete the top three. The Girls Aloud best of, meanwhile, shoots back into the Top 40 to number 6, possibly on the back of the new single, or the recent ITV special, or perhaps it's on offer somewhere. Mercury winner and Poll Of Polls favourite 'The Seldom Seen Kid' from Elbow also re-enters into the Top 40, at 11, as does one of CMU's favourite LPs of 2008, MGMT's 'Oracular Spectacular', which zooms back up to 13. Other 2008 releases (and old favourites like 'Abba Gold') also return into the Top 40, presumably as a result of the post-Christmas shopping rush (and high street cost cutting).

The chart is compiled by the Official Charts Company.

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Obviously very keen to deny rumors she was engaged to boyfriend Travis Mccoy of the Gym Class Heroes, Katy Perry has now split from the hip hopper. The couple had, sources say, been arguing aplenty in recent weeks, while Mccoy reportedly let his exasperations known by writing poetically on his website: "We fight every night, now that's not kosher. I reminisce with bliss of when we was closer. And wake up to be greeted by an argument again, You act like you're 10".

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Do we need to know that Britney Spears introduced her family to her new flame Sandip Soparrkar on New Year's Eve? No? Oh. Well I've told you now. Might has well have that customary source quote. Here goes. "Sandip flew in from India to meet the parents and it went fantastically well. At the party, Britney was wearing a red and gold sari - a Christmas present from Sandip. They saw in New Year together, holding hands and kissing. Britney is clearly besotted and seems determined to make a real go of her new relationship". Love was obviously in the air at the Spears household, Britney's brother married his partner earlier that same day.

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The music world is rather well represented in the new series of 'Celebrity Big Brother', which returned to our screens on Friday following it's year off in 2008. All c'lebs participating have reportedly been warned against any controversial behavior like the racist remarks made by Jade Goody and friends against Shilpa Shetty when the show was last on our screens in 2007. That, of course, led to national (and international) outrage.

Trying not to be racist from the world of music are former Sugababe Mutya Buena, former A1 boy Ben Adams, former Liberty X girl Michelle Heaton and US rapper Coolio, plus another member of the Jackson clan, this time the rebellious La Toya Jackson. TV and radio presenter Terry Christian, sort of linked to the world of music I guess, is also in there, as are Austin Powers actor Verne Troyer, Shameless actress Tina Malone, glamour model Pinder, Scottish politician Tommy Sheridan, and a certain Ulrika Jonsson.

I've not been watching, but apparently Christian has been named leader of the house or something. He'll exclusively get to nominate housemates for eviction I think, with the first eviction at the end of the week. Coolio, Troyer and Adams are reportedly currently bookies' favourite to win.

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Whether all those musical c'lebs are hoping to gain new success as artists via their stay in the house I don't know. One would assume not, given how rarely celebrity reality shows deliver for pop stars looking for a career revival. One such former pop star who, to be fair, did get a lucrative reality show career on digital TV after of his appearance on ITV's prime time reality affair, is having another go at pop stardom. Yes, Peter Andre has said his New Year's resolution is to have another hit album. He's quoted thus: "Last year I wanted to get fit, and I've done that. I wanted the kids to be healthy and happy, and touch wood they have been. Perhaps this year I want everything with the family to stay good, then to have a successful album. I can't wait!" I can.

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