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TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
The message is - new business models apply to new bands too
Faithless likely to self-release - may give away tracks
Sharkey talks tough at MIDEM
Industry may start pushing for legislation on net-piracy policing as ISP negotiations falter
Nude Madonna pic to be auctioned
Spears forced to re-record new single
Notorious film gets big opening weekend
In The Pop Courts
RIAA appeal filesharing court case webcast proposals
Winehouse and Fielder-Civil officially divorced
In The Pop Prison
Boy George to work in prison canteen
Pop Politics
Jay-Z on Obama, and lyrics
Awards & Contests
Eavis gets green award at MIDEM
Camden Crawl launches Indie Idle again
Reunions & Splits
No 'N Sync reunion on the cards
No Sepultura reunion either
In The Studio
Kate Moss makes new music attempts
Drake tribute album planned
Release News
Love says new album inspired by rehab
The Walkmen announce new single
Gigs N Tours News
Fiddy to play Zimbabwe
Reviews
Album review: Harmonic 313 - When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence (Warp)
The Music Business
IMPALA meet with European culture commissioner
The Digital Business
Lego launch MP3 player
Muzu sign up Beggars
The Media Business
NME Radio back on FM in London
Chart Of The Day
Total Rock World Album Chart
And finally...
Joaquin Phoenix makes debut, falls
Kelly Brook axed from Britain's Got Talent

Heaton out of Big Brother house

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TUESDAY 20TH JANUARY

So, this is new. Every week we'll be selecting and adding twelve more tracks to our music video service CMU-Tube, powered by MUZU, and telling you about what we've chosen and why here in the CMU Daily. There'll be some old stuff, some new stuff, some timely stuff, some recent favourites, and perhaps a little bit of musical nonsense. Who knows? Don't forget, you can tune in at any time, just get on over to www.thecmuwebsite.com/tube. Select any songs from our playlists on-demand, or just press play and let Team CMU entertain you for half an hour. Perfect. Here's this week's selection.

 

01: Justice v Simian - We Are Your Friends
Despite playing this Justice rework of the Simian-in-their-indie-band-days track 'We Are Your Friends' on something nearing repeat play when it first surfaced back in the day, I still get goose bumps when those distinctive synths kick in. And given it came second in our Track Of The Year poll in 2006 I'm guessing you rather like this track too. It kind of launched Justice and Simian's newer Mobile Disco enterprise if you think about it, despite the fact neither outfit have, in my opinion, topped this remix style collaboration. No treating your friends like the people in this video by the way.

02: Baddies - Battleships
Something newer now. I met these guys at In The City last year and have been doing my best to tip them ever since, and while they haven't been quite as prominent on the 2009 tip lists as I expected, I'm still confident things will begin to take off for this upbeat slightly-shouty alt-rock quartet this year. They've got a load of live dates coming up - check www.myspace.com/baddies - meantime here's their calling card track 'Battleships'.

03. MGMT - Electric Feel
Yeah, we all know I love MGMT, no news there. Let's replay the second single from album of the year 'Oracular Spectacular' shall we?

04: The Fugees - Ready Or Not
If only Lauryn Hill would stop being a bit loopy, then she, Wyclef Jean and Pras could properly reunite and deliver something brand new and special. Then again, perhaps they'd never be able to equal 'The Score' and stand out tracks like this one. Perhaps it's better in the past. Stay loopy Lauryn.

05: Bonobo - Pick Up
Oh Mr Bonobo. If you're not familiar with this Ninja Tune producer's work then you're life is lacking something. He's got a live DVD, recorded at Koko in London, coming out later this year, meanwhile here's a bit of classic Bonobo from back in 2003.

06: Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire
Possibly keeping Sony Music afloat at the moment (what with Dido's not so impressive comeback last year) the Kings Of Leon are definitely on fire at the moment, if you will excuse the pun there. Here's the chart topping first single from 2008 album 'Only By The Night'.

07: The Redwalls - Modern Diet
Having answered our Same Six Questions earlier in the month, and with their first UK single out this week, here's our favourite track off the band's 2007 self-released album 'The Redwalls', a brilliant bit of Brit-style indie from this Chicago trio.

08: The Pixies - Where Is My Mind?
Before listening to this song remember it was released in 1988. So. Far. Ahead. Of. Its. Time. And there's something extra haunting about seeing a blue t-shirted Kim Deal deliver her background wailing in this live version of the track taken from Eagle Rock's 'Live In Newport' DVD release.

09: Glasvegas - Daddy's Gone
Another 2008 favourite of mine - hey, I even bought it from iTunes over Christmas having realised I'd somehow not got round to blagging a copy. Glasvegas at their best.

10: Akira - Tickertape
One of the bands that were showcased during CMU Unsigned Month last year. Arcade Fire-style multi-part vocals, punk ferocity, metal tension-building and techno basslines all find their way into the mix somewhere with this lot. This track appears on their 'Japanese Frequencies' EP, released last year by Filthy Little Angels.

11: Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls
With Brits-fever, if there is such a thing, getting under way this week with the nominations announced at the Roundhouse tonight, expect much media attention for Neil and Chris who are, of course, this year's Outstanding Contribution winners. With that in mind, let's go right back to the start shall we?

12: Culture Club - Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?
Yeah, you can do your own gag right? Happier times in the court room for George here.

Get on over to www.thecmuwebsite.com/tube and enjoy. To put your songs forward for possible playlisting, just set up your own MUZU channel, upload your videos, and then email details to cmutube@unlimitedmedia.co.uk.

 

COWTOWN
It's pretty hard to 'get' Cowtown unless, I imagine, you've consumed an entire kilo of sugar, such is the frenetic, numbskull enthusiasm underlying their repertoire. Evidently influenced by bonkers American no wavers Devo and their contemporary reincarnation Polysics, everything's put together at breakneck speed, with crashing cymbals, twitchy cowbell and various synth riffs battling for speaker time. You'll have to be Nottingham or Leeds based to catch them any time soon, so why not pay a visit to their MySpace, linked below.

www.myspace.com/cowtownsuperstars

 

 


THE MESSAGE IS - NEW BUSINESS MODELS APPLY TO NEW BANDS TOO
It's easy(ish) for established artists to shun the traditional record label relationship in this here modern age, we all know that. The costs of producing and distributing music are down, especially if you go the digital-only route on the singles, and maybe even the album too. Major artists can secure prime positioning on download stores much easier than they ever could have got front-of-store racking on the high street without a major label's influence and cheque book, and they have the email addresses of millions of fans reducing the need for expensive advertising campaigns. Where production, manufacture and marketing budgets are required, and the band aren't willing to fund it themselves, there'll probably be a brand or venture capitalist willing to write a cheque. Easy. Ish. Partner an established artist with a good manager, and maybe hire to services of an Absolute label-style services agency, and you're sorted. No need for a tedious record company to get involved - except, perhaps, as a distributor of their physical product.

But what about new bands? They don't have the fanbase or the influence. They may need someone to bankroll some development work to get their sound ready for release. And while brands and money types sometimes claim to be into supporting new music, they only really write sizeable cheques for bands with a track record and an existing audience. However good the artist, however good the manager, you need a record company's money and marketing support at this level, no?

Well, no, according to Brian Message, who, as a partner in UK management firm Courtyard helps oversee the careers of established bands like Radiohead and Faithless, more recent success stories like Kate Nash, and some newer talent too. The newly appointed chair of the UK's Music Managers' Forum, he delivered the keynote management speech at MIDEM in Cannes yesterday, and while he spent a little time retelling the "Radiohead, aren't they doing well without those bastards EMI" story, he told the label-exec heavy audience that newer artists could go it alone too.

On Radiohead and their much acclaimed pay-what-you-want digital release of last album 'In Rainbows', Message called the venture an example of "artist empowerment", adding: "The band wanted some control, they wanted to go direct to the fans". Although the band and their management have never officially revealed what the average price paid for the album was, Message said the promotion was a success, though admitted that the band's main revenue earner at the moment is live activity, meaning the album give-away was possibly more successful as a marketing tool than a cash cow. He told the conference: "A lot of it [revenue] comes from live and Radiohead's live business has gone up hugely [recently}". As an example, he said 60,000 fans came to see the band play in San Francisco on the back of the hype around 'In Rainbows' - previously they'd pulled in 25,000 in that market.

But, Message argues, not only big bands like Radiohead can shun traditional label relationships, though for newer bands to retain more control of their careers and copyrights they'll require management willing to take more responsibility and more risk. According to Billboard, Message told MIDEM: "It has been a quite dramatic period of change. [The management business model] has migrated from easy 20% commissions and having to put up no investment, to having to put up quite a lot of investment. It definitely makes the pips squeak a little bit in terms of taking that risk".

That means companies like Courtyard investing its own money, or persuading venture capitalists to put forward some cash, into new unproven talent. They or their VCs get a cut of revenues in return for their capital, but don't take ownership of any copyrights. But will VCs really invest in unproven bands? Message says yes - "Despite the economic woes, there is a lot of VC money waiting to come into the music business. If you get it right, the returns for an artist as a business can be huge".

That's not to say labels are completely redundant. Message manages Rifles and Kate Nash, both major label signed artists. Though when labels get involved, Message says, innovative deals should be struck to suit each artist. Rifles, for example, have a business partner relationship with Warner Music rather than a traditional recording contract.

Of course, some label execs might argue there's not really any such thing as a "traditional recording contract" and that such artist partnership deals have existed for years. And they'd probably be right. But I think it is fair to say managers are playing an increasingly interesting role in the deals they do for their artists - new and established - both by doing deals with companies outside the traditional music business, and more innovative deals with the traditional players. Which makes insights from the likes of Message interesting to hear.

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FAITHLESS LIKELY TO SELF-RELEASE - MAY GIVE AWAY TRACKS
Anyway, back to big artists going it alone, and lets talk about Message's other big band, Faithless. And Message used MIDEM to let it be known those guys - having split from Sony Music last year - are not currently seeking a new major label deal, but rather would follow management-mates Radiohead's lead and grab a little of that "artist empowerment" for themselves.

Message told Billboard: "I think it's highly unlikely they would make a record deal. I hope they would take a whole lot of risk on making the music. They like that empowerment thing".

Whether than means an 'In Rainbows' style give-away isn't clear, though in his aforementioned keynote Message implied it might, adding: "Free is a valuable part of the artist proposition".

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SHARKEY TALKS TOUGH AT MIDEM
More MIDEM, and the boss of cross-industry trade body UK Music, Feargal Sharkey, often the consolatory voice in the room when the music industry feels it is being abused by government or the internet industry, delivered some fighting talk in his speech.

First the UK government. Despite Culture Secretary Andy Burnham putting pressure on the ISPs to take a more proactive role in combating online piracy, and more recently saying that the government were no longer completely against the idea of extending the sound recording copyright, Sharkey said British ministers should do more to help the music business.

Welcoming the French approach to online piracy (putting obligations on the ISPs to act - and to cut off file sharers - into law), and noting that the UK industry often relied on European legislation to protect label and artists' interests, he said: "Whether it's ensuring that a private copying exception is met with some sort of compensation mechanism, or term extension for sound recordings or simply protection of a creator's moral rights, why is it that UK creators are constantly having to seek support from Brussels and not on our own doorstep?".

On the internet world's attitude to music, he said he was sick of the "ever growing chorus of pseudo-intellectual cyber professors who feel that even [a] basic right of [IP] ownership is one right too many", concluding: "It is now clearly time we stop playing the game according to their rules. It is now time that we make the world understand music and creativity in terms which transcend the language of economics and utility".

Sharkey probably adopted the more-negative-than-normal tone in a bid to call his UK-heavy audience to arms. He observed that the music industry had always survived through building mutually beneficial partnerships with other industries, but said that whereas in the past the music business had taken the lead in those partnerships, in recent years "for the first time we are being told by others what to do and when to do it".

I'm not sure that's completely true - the record industry was originally created by another industry telling the music community what to do - ie gramophone makers telling then exclusively live performers to get in the studio and start putting their music down on record. And, while Apple did take the lead in turning the internet into a revenue stream for music companies, the Universal Musics of this world have done quite a bit of dictating in how subsequent digital music services operate.

But Sharkey's point, presumably, is that the music industry needs to more frequently lead the way when working with partners - governmental or commercial - to both protect its interests and pursue new opportunities, and he's probably right. That, of course, is easier with one united voice - meaning Sharkey's unspoken conclusion is that it is in everyone's interest if those trade bodies used to acting alone remain committed to his new trade-association-of-trade-associations, and let him take the lead on industry-wide issues, like copyright and the internet. Some of those trade associations affiliated to UK Music may share some of Sharkey's sentiments, but at the same time be nervous about giving up too much lobbying power for the common good.

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INDUSTRY MAY START PUSHING FOR LEGISLATION ON NET-PIRACY POLICING AS ISP NEGOTIATIONS FALTER
Whether it's led by UK Music or the BPI or another trade body, someone may need to step up their lobbying activity regarding making internet service providers take more responsibility for tackling online piracy.

As much previously reported, record label trade body the BPI and six ISPs last year signed a memorandum of understanding which saw the net firms commit send out warning letters to suspected file sharers as a way of preparing the ground for more detailed discussions on how the record companies and net firms could work together to combat piracy and collaborate on new digital music services that could be bundled into ISP's monthly subscriptions.

There have been mixed rumours on how those talks are going - but Orange's Director of Legal & Regulatory Affairs, Simon Persoff, didn't seem to confident any agreement would be reached when speaking at a recent MusicTank Think Tank on the issue. And now Digital Music News say they've seen a BPI report recently submitted to government concluding that voluntary measures acceptable to both the labels and the ISPs will not now be achieved, and legislation will be required.

The report reads thus: "A purely self-regulatory or voluntary approach to dealing with illegal file-sharing has been attempted between BPI and ISPs but, for various reasons, has not been successful. The MoU is not likely to achieve the objective of a significant reduction in illegal file-sharing unless it is underpinned by new statutory obligations on ISPs".

Whether this means label/ISP talks are now off I'm not sure, though there does seem, for the first time, to be growing support in the UK industry for the model adapted by the French government in this domain - creating a government agency that polices online piracy, and has the power to force ISPs to cut off persistent copyright infringers.

The government has previously indicated it would legislate in the labels' favour on this issue - indications which persuaded the ISPs to come to the negotiating table in the first place. Though, as Persoff said at the aforementioned MusicTank event, with a General Election now likely in the next 18 months, is the government really going to bring in new laws that could lead to a certain percentage of the population losing their internet connections? And after that election, it might not be Burnham and friends the industry needs to persuade.

Still, artist manager Peter Jenner seems convinced government can be persuaded to act if and when negotiations between the two industries fail. Digital Music News quote him thus: "It's naive to think that the government doesn't have a role. If not, they will witness a collapse of the content industries".

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NUDE MADONNA PIC TO BE AUCTIONED
A nude photograph of Madonna taken by US photographer Lee Friedlander is expected to fetch as much as $15,000 when it goes up for auction at Christie's in New York next month.

Matthieu Humery, head of Christie's photography department, said the picture was "probably the most explicit" of a set taken during a session in 1979, for which the singer was paid $25. Friedlander himself later sold the pictures on to Playboy and they are currently owned by collectors Leon and Michaela Constantiner.

Friedlander said of the picture: "She told me she was putting a band together but half the kids that age [were] doing that. She was a good, professional model".

The photo will be sold along with a number of other images from the Constantiner's collection of pictures of glamour and style icons, which will be auctioned on 12 Feb. Should you wish to know what an explicit picture of a young Madonna would look like (in the name of research, obviously), go here.

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SPEARS FORCED TO RE-RECORD NEW SINGLE
According to The Sun, Britney Spears has been forced to record a more radio-friendly version of her next single, 'If You Seek Amy', after it left many radio DJs confused over whether or not they would be able to play it.

As previously reported, when Spears sings the song's chorus, "All of the boys and all of the girls are beggin' to, if you seek Amy", it sounds a little bit like she might be singing "F-U-C-K me". Some people have even gone so far as to suggest the more innocent line Spears claims to be singing doesn't even make sense. The cheek!

Whether or not the song is actually rude has been a matter of debate amongst US radio DJs since it was announced as the next single from Spears' 'Circus' album. Some feel something sounding a little rude, but not technically rude, isn't grounds to ban it or force a re-edit. Others, however, wouldn't like to take the risk of offending anyone, and are demanding an alternative version be made.

It looks like the latter group will get what they are asking for, much as they did with Black Eyed Peas' 'Don't Phunk With My Heart', which was re-recorded to say "mess" instead of "phunk". In Britney's case, the song title will be changed to 'If You See Amy', dropping the 'k' from the third word. Then all the world can sleep soundly, happy in the knowledge that no one is seeking Amy.

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NOTORIOUS FILM GETS BIG OPENING WEEKEND
The much previously reported Biggie Smalls biopic 'Notorious' grossed $21.5 million when it opened at the weekend, despite a limited theatre release. The film came fourth behind 'My Bloody Valentine 3-D', 'Gran Torino', and 'Mall Cop', but given the aforementioned limited release, it still beat the other three in terms of average per-screen takings, $13,126 compared to top film 'Mall Cop's $10,751 per-screen average.

The film makes it Fox Searchlight's most successful opening weekend, beating their previous outings 'Juno' and 'Little Miss Sunshine'. 20th Century Fox's Chris Aronson says of the movie's success: "It's a very high quality film, and it's a compelling look at a compelling cultural icon who, like many cultural icons, left way too early but left an indelible mark on society. The estimated three-day gross for 'Notorious' showed it was more popular than expected beyond African-American audiences. We crossed over, which speaks volumes about his impact as a cultural icon".

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RIAA APPEAL FILESHARING COURT CASE WEBCAST PROPOSALS
Oh dear. The Recording Industry Association Of America is appealing that previously reported decision by US judge Nancy Gertner that a pending court hearing regarding their file-sharing lawsuit against individual music fan Joel Tenenbaum can be streamed on the internet.

As previously reported, Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson, who has been advising Tenenbaum on his case, first suggested the court hearing be streamed, arguing that as it's of interest to the net community, coverage of it should be made available through the medium they prefer. Gertner, slightly surprisingly, agreed.

But according to Digital Music News, the RIAA last week appealed that ruling. As previously mentioned, while US copyright law generally favours the RIAA in file sharing litigation, when cases go to court the record industry's case often gets caught up in technicalities. The label body - which is trying to put its "sue first think later" days behind it - is presumably keen not to let the world at large tune in as one of its last file sharing lawsuits possible falters in court.

Gertner is yet to respond to the RIAA's appeal. Needless to say, Nesson isn't impressed, telling reporters: "If the RIAA's position is to educate people about the business and legal climate of the music industry, it is unclear to us why they are appealing this decision".

As previously commented, Nesson's attempts to have the court case streamed may be a clever tactic in Tenenbaum's defence. There's a chance the RIAA may withdraw the lawsuit rather than go through the PR trauma of possibly facing defeat on a file-sharing case in view of the whole world wide web (even if the defeat was based on tedious technicalities, normally relating to how evidence was collected).

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WINEHOUSE AND FIELDER-CIVIL OFFICIALLY DIVORCED
If second hand reports of people doing things on social networks are grounds for writing news reports, and Facebook relationship updates legally binding (and I see absolutely no reason why they shouldn't be), then I can officially inform you that Amy Winehouse and Blake Fielder-Civil are now divorced.

Yes, yesterday Blake changed his relationship status on Facebook from 'In a relationship' to 'Single', meaning the message "Blakey Incarcerated and Amy Jade Civil ended their relationship" popped up in the news feeds of all their friends. By the way, those are the names they both go by on Facebook, if you were wondering, although Amy might be changing hers soon, if these reports are true.

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BOY GEORGE TO WORK IN PRISON CANTEEN
According to reports, Boy George walked straight into a £6 a week job in the prison canteen at Pentonville, which is apparently quite cushy compared to other jobs he might have got.

As previously reported, the singer has begun a fifteen month sentence at Pentonville in London after being convicted of falsely imprisoning male escort Audun Carlsen. A source is quoted as saying: "It won't go down well if he's seen to get special privileges. People [normally] have to wait weeks before they're given good jobs".

On George's first prison meal of fish, chips and mushy peas, the source continued: "It was bland. It must have been a shock. Conditions here are poor and so is the food, nothing like he's used to. Prison is a great leveller. George has been very quiet. He's not been crying but seems to be in another world and sleeps a lot".

The singer, real name George O' Dowd, is said to be terrified of being attacked because of his homosexuality. Richard Lyttle, who was kept in holding cell with George ahead of his sentencing on Friday is quoted as saying "He kept sobbing, 'I can't go to jail. I will be killed'".

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JAY-Z ON OBAMA, AND LYRICS
Jay-Z has spoken to MTV News about his work on Young Jeezy's 'My President' remix, in which he uses the lyric: "Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk/ Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run/ Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly".

Jay-Z explained: "It's just the progression. ... You sat, you walked, you ran, you ran to fly. You know, just the progression and how far we've come as a nation. It feels good to say that, 'cause I never had that type of feeling to say as a nation, like I was part of the American dream. And I believe a lot of people didn't feel like a part of the American process for so long".

Some reports say that Jay Z has borrowed the lyric from an email forward that was doing the rounds over the last few months, but others claim he coined the phrase. CMU reported back at the start of November that he'd encouraged fans to vote by saying "I need y'all to be really, really quiet for this. I need you to really understand what I'm telling you. Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama's running so we all can fly", but I don't know which came first, this email, or his saying it.

Anyway, here's a bit more of Jay-Z talking about progress: "Now everyone's included in the American process this great day. So that's the progression and the process. Now there's no excuses for anybody. Now you can look into a child's eyes and say, 'Get it together. You can be president.' It's not an easy thing, but it can happen. And we have evidence to the fact".

Jay performed at a special Obama-celebrating gig in Washington last night ahead of the new prez's inauguration later today.

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EAVIS GETS GREEN AWARD AT MIDEM
Michael Eavis has been given MIDEM's Green World award in recognition of Glastonbury's environmental achievements.

The festival has become increasingly eco-conscious in recent years; in 2008 one million biodegradable tent pegs were distributed on site, whilst eight tonnes (eight tonnes?) of discarded wellington boots were sent to Senegal for reuse. Beer cups and plates used on the site are biodegradable, 50% of the rubbish generated is recycled, food waste is composted, and solar power is used to provide electricity. Eavis is quoted as saying: "The farm is still the most important thing, to care about the fields and hedgerows. It's a beautiful farm that is full of green life".

At a press conference announcing the award, Eavis refused to reveal who the headliners for this year's festival are, explaining that doing so might affect the band's ticket sales for their other gigs, saying "They get proper money from their commercial concerts and festivals, they play for us for very little money, so it's only fair that they should earn their money first. So I can't spoil their ticket sales by announcing it".

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CAMDEN CRAWL LAUNCHES INDIE IDLE AGAIN
The annual unsigned artist competition held as part of the Camden Crawl music event, Indie Idle, has launched for another year.

Acts can enter the contest via www.indieidle.co.uk, and have until 28 Feb to get their entry form in. Following the closing date, a panel of music industry types will shortlist thirty entries from across the genres, and that list will be opened to a public vote which will reduce it down to ten finalists who will compete in front of a live audience and a panel of judges at the Camden Crawl on 24 and 25 Apr. Which is pretty much how it all happened last year, I think.

Winners and runners up are announced on the last day of the festival. The victorious act will earn a day's recording at a London recording studio, single mastering and the manufacture of 500 7" singles, in addition to their live slots at the festival. More prizes are also to be announced, apparently.

Tickets are on sale now for the Camden Crawl, available at www.thecamdencrawl.com. Initial line-ups are expected to be announced by the end of this month.

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NO 'N SYNC REUNION ON THE CARDS
Despite what Lance Bass has been saying of late, there are no plans for 'N Sync to reform in the near future. So says fellow former 'N Sync-er JC Chasez, anyway. If fact, he has gone so far as to say that it hasn't even been discussed.

Asked about the possibility of a reunion, Chasez told The New York Post: "We haven't discussed anything like that. I don't know. Honestly, I can't speak for Lance as to why he would say that but I know nothing about one".

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NO SEPULTURA REUNION EITHER
More reunions that aren't happening now, and this time it's Sepultura. Ever since the band's acrimonious split with frontman Max Cavalera in 1996, fans have hoped that the original line-up would get back together. In 2007, when Cavalera's brother Igor also left the band, and the pair formed a new band, Cavalera Conspiracy, that hope seemed even less likely, but Max recently hinted that a full reunion with their former band may soon be on the cards. However, Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser says that is absolutely not the case, and has branded Max "crazy".

Kisser told Blistering.com: "Max is crazy. He says crazy stuff in interviews, contradicts himself a lot and you can never count on what he says, so I guess people are confused... Since Max left, it's been going on and when Igor left even more so. Some people make up the pressure for us to do it, but there's nothing to it, we're not interested in it all. We're very focused on what we're doing now and that's because we want to lead and do whatever we want. I don't understand all of this bullshit".

Sepultura release their ninth album, 'A-Lex', a concept album based on 'A Clockwork Orange', via SPV on 23 Jan.

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KATE MOSS MAKES NEW MUSIC ATTEMPTS
Jamie Hince of The Kills has reportedly been encouraging his girlfriend Kate Moss to have a proper go at music, to the extent that he's said to have bought her a Steinway piano for her birthday. Whether this is advisable or not I don't know, but as I'm sure you're all aware, she has provided some vocals here and there, for Babyshambles and Primal Scream.

A source told the Daily Express: "Kate can't play a single note on the piano but Jamie has promised her that he will teach her to play and they'll form a duo together as he did with his bandmate Alison Mosshart. She has mentioned wanting to name it The Mossys for a laugh. It will be completely different music, though, to his Kills stuff - something much more romantic and ballad-based".

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DRAKE TRIBUTE ALBUM PLANNED
A Nick Drake tribute album and DVD is set to be released next year via Jack Johnson's record label, and will reportedly feature cover versions by the likes of Jack himself, Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder and Norah Jones. The DVD version will also feature a video shot by late actor Heath Ledger for the singer's track 'Black Eyed Dog'.

A similar tribute is planned for country singer Bill Monroe, with The Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss and Dave Matthews set to appear.

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LOVE SAYS NEW ALBUM INSPIRED BY REHAB
Courtney Love has revealed that her new album, 'Nobody's Daughter', is based on her experiences in rehab. She also said that it's much better than her last album, which was "horrible".

As previously reported, 'Nobody's Daughter' was due to be released on 1 Jan, but failed to materialise on that date. Subsequently it was revealed that technical issues relating to studio ghosts and hip hop had forced the release date back, and that Love had secured $30 million in funding for the album from various sources, including tampon and tequila manufacturers.

Love told Heeb magazine: "There's like more singles than I fucking know what to do with [on 'Nobody's Daughter']. It's taken from rehab. I started in rehab, writing this record in earnest. My last record was a complete disaster. It sucked. It was horrible. It had horrible art and half-baked songs. There's one song on there I actually force myself to listen to, because you know, we are measured by our failures, and it was more than a failure. I knew it sucked when I was making it, and I continued to make it, instead of just saying, 'Stop'".

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THE WALKMEN ANNOUNCE NEW SINGLE
The Walkmen will release a new single, 'In The New Year', on 23 Feb. Taken from the album, 'You & Me', which was released last year by Fierce Panda, the single will be released on limited edition 7" and download.

Watch the video for the single here.

The band will also be in the UK for a few gigs next month, including a headline slot at the Fierce Panda 15th birthday party at The Scala in London 20 Feb. The dates are as follows:

18 Feb: Birmingham, Barfly
19 Feb: Brighton, Concorde 2
20 Feb: London, The Scala (Fierce Panda's 15th birthday party)

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FIDDY TO PLAY ZIMBABWE
According to reports, 50 Cent is presently finalising a deal to play a gig in Zimbabwe. The country's tourism department has been making an effort to attract big artists in an effort to boost foreign tourism, and it would seem to have worked where Fiddy is concerned. It won't be his first appearance on the African continent, however. He has already played in Nigeria, Tanzania and South Africa, where he met up with Nelson Mandela to discuss the issues facing Africa.

Here's what Tongai Mnangagwa, a representative of Longcash Entertainment, told reporters about the rapper's planned trip: "He indicated to us that besides the show, he would love to visit some of our top tourist destinations. He will spend at least three days in the country".

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ALBUM REVIEW: Harmonic 313 - When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence (Warp)
Harmonic 313 is the new project from Mark Pritchard, one of the few genuine electronic music geniuses borne from 90s dance culture (see also: Richard D James, the Hartnolls, Liam Howlett and one or two others). Whereas his Troubleman alias focused on sun-kissed Brazilian funk and soul and Harmonic 33 dealt with soundtrack exotica, Harmonic 313 is a love affair with Detroit (the clue is in the 313 - the area's postcode), a city that has previously partly shaped Pritchard's electronica output under his Reload alias. 'When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence' is more an album of what Pritchard calls "UK bass music" than an exercise in purely electronic listening music though. Tracks here are deep and dirty; the likes of 'Dirtbox' and 'Word Problems' are part techno/electro, part dubstep, packed with earth-shaking bass, ominous retro synths and vintage drum machines and occasional mutant B-boy chatter. Guest vocalists appear on two tracks: Phat Kat & Elzhi make 'Battlestar' a notably chunky piece of hip hop whilst Steve Spacek adds sheen to the electro soul of 'Falling Away'. Elsewhere, the ambient washes of 'Koln' ebb and flow, making it redolent of Pritchard's more ambient work. Whilst 'WMEHI' is not quite as essential or memorable as some of Pritchard's other output (though few albums come close to '76:14', the seminal ambient album he created with Tom Middleton under the Global Communication moniker), it's nonetheless a cohesive, enlightening listen that, like the best albums on Warp Records, engages your brain, soul and feet. MS
Release Date: 2 Feb
Press Contact: Warp IH [all]

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IMPALA MEET WITH EUROPEAN CULTURE COMMISSIONER
Pan-European indie label trade body IMPALA have met with European Commissioner for Culture, Ján Figel, at MIDEM, to specifically discuss the big issues faced by independent record companies across the EU, in particular in getting equality with major record companies in the growing digital and mobile music sectors. The meeting comes as Figel prepares a green paper on the cultural industries. IMPALA have said they think the independent cultural sector should have its own chapter in that report.

While the meeting was held in private, IMPALA say they were encouraged by their discussion with the Commissioner. IMPALA co-President and !K7 chief Horst Weidenmueller told CMU: "Discrimination of independents online is something that has been overlooked for some time. That this is being recognised at European level is a great step forward. It is now a question of whether the Commission will be able to keep up with the evolution of the market".

His co-President, and [PIAS] boss Michel Lambot, added: "IMPALA has always said that the concentration that exists in the physical market must not happen in the new online market, but this is the case. This is something that the Commission urgently needs to act on and turn its vocal support of the independents into concrete actions".

As for Figel, he said this: "This year is the European year of Creativity and Innovation. What we must remember is that for music SMEs [small and medium enterprises], like those represented by IMPALA, every year is a year of creativity and innovation. Direct dialogue with IMPALA members is vital because of the specific contribution made by cultural SMEs to Europe in economic, social and cultural terms - we must understand their markets and foster the conditions necessary to give them the support they need".

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LEGO LAUNCH MP3 PLAYER
Oh, this I like. LEGO have launched an MP3 player that looks like its been made out of lego bricks. Alas, they're not real lego bricks, so you can't take it apart. But that's probably just as well, as you'd never get it back together gain. The LEGO MP3 player is one of a number of new gadgets launched by the popular toy brand that have the LEGO brick look.

Announcing the new gadget range, Jill Wilfert, LEGO's VP of Licensing, said the company hoped to reach out (or, most likely, re-reach out) to a whole new audience with the new gadgets which will, Wilfert says, "enable LEGO fans to express themselves through photos, videos and music, while displaying their enthusiasm for one of the world's all-time favourite toys".

The LEGO MP3 player follows the release earlier in the month of a colourful player by crayon makers Crayola.

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MUZU SIGN UP BEGGARS
Music video website MUZU TV have announced they have signed up the Beggars Group, which is great news, not least because it means music from XL, 4AD, Matador and Rough Trade will now be available to watch on the MUZU-powered CMU-Tube. Hurrah. The Beggars deal comes hot on the tail of the EMI licensing deal confirmed by MUZU last week.

MUZU Co-founder Ciaran Bollard told CMU: "We are delighted to have the deal in place with Beggars - and see it as the jewel in the crown of our indie content offering. As part of the deal, MUZU TV will digitize a lot of footage that is unseen and make the videos available exclusively through our site".

Beggars digital man Simon Wheeler added: "We are happy to be partnering with MUZU TV to bring the wealth of video content from our labels to market. MUZU TV is different from other online video channels - it was purpose-built for the music industry and we believe it holds great revenue potential for our business through a music focussed service. We see MUZU TV as being a key online video partner going forward".

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NME RADIO BACK ON FM IN LONDON
NME Radio will return to FM in London for a month in March. The digital radio station has already staged promotional FM broadcasts in London and Mancehster, and will return to 87.7FM in London on 2 Mar.

NME Radio MD Sammy Jacob told CMU: "Following the success of the previous London RSL, we wanted to create another opportunity for traditional analogue listeners to sample the station which they can thereafter access on various digital platforms".

Aside from the occasional FM broadcasts, NME's radio spin off is available via Sky, Virgin Media, Freesat and online. Plans are also afoot to get it on the digital airwaves via DAB. On those plans, Jacob added: "We're committed to making the station available on as many platforms as possible and we'll be announcing more details over the next couple of months".

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TOTAL ROCK WORLD ALBUM CHART
It's this week's Total Rock World Album Chart, as counted down on Total Rock last weekend - www.totalrock.com. New entries and re-entries marked with a *.

1. Nickelback - Dark Horse (Warner/Roadrunner)
2. AC/DC - Black Ice (Sony/Columbia)
3. Guns n Roses - Chinese Democracy (Universal/Geffen)
4. Fall Out Boy - Folie A Deux (Universal/Island)
5. Metallica - Death Magnetic (Universal/Mercury)
6. Kid Rock - Rock - N Roll Jesus (Warner/Atlantic)
7. Linkin Park - Road To Revolution (Warner Bros)
8. Slipknot - All Hope Is Gone (Warner/Roadrunner)
9. Rise Against - Appeal To Reason (Universal/Geffen)
10. Linkin Park - Minutes To Midnight (Warner Bros)
11. Disturbed - Indestructible (Warner/Reprise)
12. Nickelback - All The Right Reasons (Roadrunner)
13. Guns n Roses - Greatest Hits (Universal/Geffen)
14. Mudvayne - The New Game (Vibrant)
15. Hinder - Take It To The Limit (UMG)
16. The Offspring - Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace (Sony Music)
17. Status Quo - Pictures 40 Years Of Hits (Universal)
18. Rolling Stones - Shine A Light (Universal)*
19. AC/DC - Back In Black (Sony/Columbia)
20. Led Zeppelin - Mothership (Warner/Atlantic)*

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JOAQUIN PHOENIX MAKES DEBUT, FALLS
You'll remember, because we reported on it yesterday, that actor Joaquin Phoenix is starting a hip-hop career, and he began with a gig in Las Vegas on Friday, at which he showcased tracks from his forthcoming album, which Diddy has had a hand in producing. Eclipsing the music (which some say was underwhelming) was his fall from the stage, however, at the end of the gig. Which you can no doubt see on YouTube, if you want to look it up.

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KELLY BROOK AXED FROM BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT
Kelly Brook, who had been signed up to be a fourth judge on the new series of 'Britain's Got Talent', has been axed after just six days of filming. It's not her, though, it's them. The four judges plan has apparently been jettisoned and producers will stick to the trio of Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden.

In a statement, Cowell said: "I have genuinely enjoyed working with Kelly, she is absolutely lovely and a complete professional. But it's become clear the format doesn't support another judge and we will never add a fourth judge to the panel".

A spokesman for production company TalkbackThames added: "The format of the show is cleaner and less complicated with just three judges, which was not fully appreciated ahead of filming. Although Kelly brings a huge amount of warmth to the show and we've loved having her on board, the complications it adds to the filming process and format of the show means that unfortunately, and with huge regret, we have agreed with ITV not to proceed with a fourth judge".

Brook is described as "stunned". I imagine she's gutted, too, after being offered a £200,000 contract.

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HEATON OUT OF BIG BROTHER HOUSE
Former pop singer Michelle Heaton has become a surprise eviction from the 'Celebrity Big Brother' house.

Why this surprise eviction took place, I don't know, because I have no idea how this all works. I thought they got evicted once a week or something, but this was one that they sneaked up on the reality show competitors, with crowds outside the house remaining silent so that no-one inside guessed what was going on. She had received three votes in recent nominations, from Coolio, LaToya Jackson and Tommy Sheridan.

Having left the house to a chorus of boos, she denied that there had been romantic tension between her and former boy bander Ben Adams, saying: "I know myself and Ben knows himself and we've both got partners and I'm madly in love with mine".

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