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TODAY'S NEWS
Top Stories
Live Master confirmed
Sirius XM on verge of bankruptcy
Rihanna injuries "horrific"
Leonard Cohen donates cash to bush fire victims
Britney re-hires old PA
In The Pop Courts
Hundreds may join Canadian secondary ticketing lawsuit
Artist Deals
Snoop does multi-stream deal with MTV
Bootsy Collins signs pubs deal with EMI
In The Studio
Duffy to have a change of direction, say reports
Release News
Mute announce Nick Cave collectors editions
Maccabees give away free track
Ryan Adams releases new EP
Big Chill celebrate 15th birthday with The Big Issue
Green Day reveal artwork
Gigs N Tours News
Blur announce Manchester show
Carter USM to play first four albums live
Friendly Fires tour
Festival News
Special Snowside deals announced
Get Loaded weekend confirmed
Springsteen and E Street to play Hard Rock Calling
Reviews
Album review: School Of Seven Bells - Alpinisms (Full Time Hobby)
The Music Business
Promotion for Polydor marketing chief
Live Nation considering cashless Download
Muzak applies for bankruptcy protection
The Digital Business
Total Music closes
German government down on three-strikes proposals too
Spotify opens up to all UK internet users
The Media Business
Magic London MD steps down
Chart Of The Day
This week's Sub.tv playlist
And finally...
Sheryl Crow nearly joined Fleetwood Mac, confirms Nicks
Chris Evans has second child

Saturdays feeling Comic Relief single pressure

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WEDNESDAY 11TH FEBRUARY

SEBASTIEN GRAINGER
Sebastien Grainger is best known as one half of dance-punk duo Death From Above 1979. Although they only released one studio album together, they managed to create a highly influential sound that helped them to pick up a huge number of fans and admirers before they split in 2006. Grainger is now preparing to release his debut solo album, 'Sebastien Grainger & The Mountain', which hits shelves courtesy of Saddle Creek on 2 Mar. The first single from the album, 'Who Do We Care For?', was released this week. We spent a few moments chatting to Sebastien to find out some more.

 

Q1 How did you start out making music?
My father built a stage in the basement when my brother and sister and I were very young. I was still in diapers. I had a Muppets toy drum kit and there were always guitars and a piano in the house. Music was part of the environment.

Q2 What inspired your latest single?
A dish liquid commercial. And The Knack.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
Usually it starts as a compulsion to play a certain riff and sing a certain melody. Then a rhythm emerges and drums are recorded. After that the track is built up and down, swelling and slimming until I've found the right balance, all the right elements. Once the melody is locked down, lyrics follow and come naturally from the cadence of the melody and my sub-conscience. There is as much emphasis on the general aesthetic and sonic quality of the track as there is on the actual composition.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
Undoubtedly every artist I've ever heard. There is rarely a time when I am thinking about anyone else but myself when I'm recording, though.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
Brush your teeth at least twice a day and be patient with other humans.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest single, and for the future?
Canadians don't know what singles are, so I'll have to wait for my ambitions to unfold before me in the blinding lights of my worldly future plans.

MORE>> www.sebastiengrainger.net and www.myspace.com/sebastiengrainger

 

METRIC
Metric's 2005 album 'Live It Out' was easily one of the best albums of that year, testified by its numerous plaudits and award wins, plus the ubiquity of the big song, 'Monster Hospital'. Now back with their fourth LP, 'Fantasies', they're on good form with lead single, 'Help I'm Alive', which doesn't sound too different to the old Metric, being a growling, slightly bleak new wave song with a great hook, but then there's plenty of room to run with that style still, and it'll probably keep most fans pleased. The album's not out until April, so here's hoping for a steady stream of the rest of the record until then.

http://www.myspace.com/metricband

 

FREELANCE MUSIC PR
Small, friendly indie pop label seeks amiable, charming PR to close campaigns. Passion for our music presides over experience. 8/15 hr P/W flexible home or office. Pay dependent on experience.

INTERN FOR 360° MUSIC CO
Label, publisher and management company with international success and rapidly expanding roster in indie pop / alt-country genres seeks bright spark with a thirst for knowledge. Hours to suit min’ 16 p/w.

Contact nathaniel1975@hotmail.co.uk for both roles

 

DESK SPACE
Leyline Promotions has two desk suites available in a well-appointed courtyard studio in Westbourne Studios, W10. Ideal for a small creative agency in a very friendly and professional environment. Rent includes: storage, broadband connections, business rates, insurance, 24 hr access, restaurant and bar, conference facilities, natural sunlight. 4 mins walk from Westbourne Park tube station. Call Adrian for more info on 07971 555 020 / adrian@leylinepromotions.com

 

 



LIVE MASTER CONFIRMED
The leaks in recent days were so certain that the Live Nation Ticketmaster merger would go ahead, and so specific about the details of the deal, that when it was all confirmed yesterday there wasn't much to say, except to further speculate as to how difficult it will be to persuade US regulators to let two such big players in the live entertainment and artist relations space to become one.

But yes, Live Nation and Ticketmaster confirmed yesterday their intent to merge to create Live Nation Entertainment, a venue owning, tour and festival promoting, ticket selling, artist managing, merchandise flogging, fanlist mailing, foolishly-expensive-360-degree-deal signing music megafirm.

As expected, it will be a cashless merger - Ticketmaster shareholders will receive 1.384 shares in the new company for every one share they had in the ticketing giant.

Details of the merged firm's executive structure were not revealed, though insiders suggest reports at the weekend of Ticketmaster's Barry Diller becoming Chairman, Live Nation's Michael Rapino CEO and Ticketmaster's Irving Azoff Exec Chairman of the group and CEO of its Frontline artist management division are pretty accurate. Rapino would head up all but the artist management business on a day-to-day basis, but work in partnership with Azoff on company-wide strategic decisions. Or something like that.

With those three almost definitely part of the new exec structure at Live Nation Entertainment, more attention was given yesterday to where Sean Moriarty, currently COO of Ticketmaster Entertainment and CEO prior to the Frontline merger last year that put Azoff in the top seat, and Terry Barnes, currently Chairman of the Ticketmaster bit of Ticketmaster Entertainment, will fit into the equation.

If all five were to stay that makes quite a crowded top table, plus on a corporate culture front it means merging three different ways of doing business - given that the old school Ticketmaster/Moriarty/Barnes way of doing of things was never properly integrated with the Frontline/Azoff way.

But whatever, more details on the exec structure will presumably follow. Meanwhile, both Ticketmaster and Live Nation's boards will now have to win the support of their shareholders for the deal and then the approval of US competition regulators.

As previously reported, some, especially in political circles, are already expressing concern about the dominance of a combined Live Nation Ticketmaster. The merging companies are already arguing that the only common activity between the two companies is ticketing, and until very recently Ticketmaster handled all of Live Nation's ticketing anyway. And compared to, say, a Live Nation AEG merger, the competition concerns about this deal, while present, seem unlikely to be strong enough to persuade Obama's government to block it. However, there's likely to be quite a lot of anti Live Nation Ticketmaster lobbying going on until a decision is made. Expect more on this story before the new business cards get printed.

Meanwhile, how about some quotes from the three big guys in this story?

Barry Diller: "It was less than two months ago that Ticketmaster ended its 10-year partnership with Live Nation, and I'm extremely glad we could reunite with this combination. No different from any other industry, the challenges are all around every aspect of live entertainment. Being able to put Live Nation and Ticketmaster into an equal partnership will allow the companies to get through this difficult period and be able to expand live entertainment options to audiences throughout the world."

Michael Rapino: "This combination will drive measurable benefits to consumers and accelerate the execution of our strategy to build a better artist-to-fan direct distribution platform. As every industry observer knows, too many tickets go unsold and too many fans are frustrated with their ticket-buying experiences. The current inefficiencies in the system result in higher costs and confusion over access to seats. Together, we will work to simplify the ticketing process and ultimately increase attendance at live events".

Irving Azoff: "This merger, and the resources of these combined companies, will create a new dynamic and unique creative platform of choice for fans across all levels of the live entertainment experience. There is nothing more magical than the bond and the intimate relationship of fans to artists. It is truly an experience that needs to be embraced and nurtured with both integrity and respect. One of the mandates of the combined company will be to develop that bond to unsurpassed levels".

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SIRIUS XM ON VERGE OF BANKRUPTCY
The last big entertainment industry merger to bother competition regulators in the US was, I reckon, the merger between the country's two satellite radio networks, Sirius and XM.

As previously reported, both the US Department Of Justice and the country's media regulator the FCC, both of whom had to approve that merger, agonised over it all for the best part of eighteen months because of concerns it would give one company a monopoly over the US satellite radio sector. When the merger finally went ahead last July it did give Sirius XM a monopoly in satellite radio, though they argued competition was so fierce from terrestrial and online radio and music services, they would still be operating in a competitive market.

Whatever market they are competing in, they seem to be struggling as the credit crunch bites, because there are reports this morning that the company is about to apply for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Although that doesn't necessarily mean the company will proceed into liquidation, it does mean the broadcaster has a serious cash shortage.

That said, the filing for Chapter 11 protection, assuming it is made, will seemingly, in part at least, be a bid to stop a hostile takeover by satellite owners EchoStar, who reportedly made an unsuccessful bid to buy the company last year and who have since been buying up the company's debts, which are substantial, presumably in a bid to force some kind of takeover deal if and when the radio firm defaults on a loan repayment.

It's not clear if EchoStar would be interested in Sirius XM's infrastructure or content, though the former seems more likely. Some reckon Sirius XM chief and former Viacom/MTV boss Mel Karmazin would be advised to let EchoStar take over his company's satellite network, but try to negotiate himself control of the firm's content division, and then transform Sirius XM into a multi-streamed audio content network, making content available via satellite, internet and mobile. Insiders say, though, that Karmazin has, to date, not been so keen on giving up any control.

But the same insiders say restructuring and bankruptcy experts are already in the building and the Chapter 11 documents could be filed this week, so it could be that Karmazin has to accept some compromises sooner rather that later.

Speculation is rife as to what all this will mean for Sirius XM's existing presenters and content partners, and in particular the network's biggest star, the rather handsomely paid Howard Stern, one of the network's single biggest costs, but also the reason many people signed up to Sirius' subscription package in the first place. If Sirius XM simply cannot afford to keep up its payments to Stern it will be interesting to see if he agrees to a pay cut to help keep the network afloat, or just jumps ship. There's talk of him going into retirement, and he's certainly burned most of his bridges with the terrestrial radio industry. Though with internet radio on the rise, even in this economic climate, there'd probably be investors and sponsors willing to finance a stand alone Stern net radio station.

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RIHANNA INJURIES "HORRIFIC"
More now on the alleged attack on Rihanna by boyfriend Chris Brown ahead of the Grammys at the weekend. As previously reported, both were no shows at the big awards bash, and Brown was arrested over allegations of assault against an unnamed woman on Sunday night.

With a plethora of reports and sources now confirming it was his superstar girlfriend who Brown was arrested for attacking in the early hours of Sunday morning, TMZ.com have moved on to more gory details, and are reporting that Rihanna's injuries included a split lip, bleeding nose and bite marks on one of her arms and several fingers.

According to the website, the singer refused treatment at the scene of the crime but, before she was taken to hospital, photographs were taken of her injuries, which showed "devastating proof of abuse". They also claim that it was not Rihanna who called the police but someone in the area who heard her screams, though other media are saying she did make the 911 call and can be heard screaming on it. Though perhaps she can be heard screaming in the background. Or perhaps all of that's made up. Who knows?

Following the previously reported announcement that Brown had been suspended from promotional activities for gum makers Wrigleys pending the criminal investigation, it has now been confirmed that he will also not take part in this Friday's NBA All-Star celebrity basketball game, as had been planned.

But, I know what you're saying, all this gossip is all well and good, but what does Kanye West think about it all? Well, he's told Ryan Seacrest exactly what he thinks. Speaking on Seacrest's radio show, West said: "I was completely devastated by the concept of what I heard". He added that he has great affection for Rihanna and that, therefore "I feel like that's my baby sis. I would do any and everything to help her in any situation". He concluded: "All I want to say is, it's so devastating. Just as a person, I don't care how famous she is or even if she just worked at McDonald's ... it should never come to that place".

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LEONARD COHEN DONATES CASH TO BUSH FIRE VICTIMS
Leonard Cohen, who's coming to the end of a tour of Australia, has donated £90,000 to help victims of the bush fires that have recently affected the country. As you may be aware, more than 180 people have died as a result of the blazes, and around 1000 homes destroyed.

The singer's tour promoter, Mushroom Group man Michael Gudinski, explained that "Leonard has loved his time in Australia on this tour and is shocked and deeply saddened by the news of the fires" and that Cohen and his touring party wished to extend "their heartfelt sympathies to those that have suffered the loss of loved ones or their homes through this terrible tragedy".

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BRITNEY RE-HIRES OLD PA
There are people in the mental health world who dislike the word "recovery", as it gives people false hope that they can return to being the same person they were before they started having problems with their mental health. Even without such issues, it's not even possible to return to who you were a week ago. Still, maybe getting restraining orders against the people who purportedly caused your breakdown and reacquainting yourself with those who have acted as a stabilising force in the past is a good thing.

This is a very long-winded way of telling you that Britney Spears has re-hired her former PA, Felicia Culotta, who worked with the singer between 1998 and 2007. Culotta will quit her role as assistant to the Jonas Brothers to take up her former role.

Culotta told Britney's website: "Britney has always held a special place in my heart, and over the course of the last year I have seen her work harder than she ever has in her entire life. I am really going to miss the Jonas boys, but I felt I had to be a part of this exciting time in Britney's career. I love Britney and missed her dearly".

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HUNDREDS MAY JOIN CANADIAN SECONDARY TICKETING LAWSUIT
You might say that if you're stupid enough to pay $500 for a pair of Smashing Pumpkins tickets on a resale site, you've no one to blame but yourself. You'd probably be right.

But as Canadian Henryk Krajewski begins his previously reported lawsuit against Ticketmaster, claiming that the ticketing giant's secondary tickets resale website TicketsNow, and the way the main Ticketmaster site links to it, breaches Ontario rules on ticket touting, his lawyers say hundreds of people have been in touch about joining the legal action. As also previously reported, Krajewski is looking to turn the litigation into a class action lawsuit so that anyone who feels they've been cheated by a ticket resales website can make a claim.

The whole lawsuit does seem rather ambitious - especially the C$500 million Krajewski is suing for - and Ticketmaster chairman Barry Diller said yesterday that the action was "without merit". However, as we said yesterday, with Diller and co busy trying to convince US authorities that a combined Live Nation Ticketmaster won't lead to them abusing their position in the live music market, they could do without a high profile lawsuit in neighbouring Canada accusing Ticketmaster of already abusing its position as the dominant ticketing agency.

Confirming that hundreds of ticket buyers had been in touch since the lawsuit had been publicised, and responding to Diller's remarks, Krajewski's lawyer Jay Strosberg told reporters yesterday: "The nice thing about the law is that it's not going to be up to him [Diller]. The court will ultimately determine if the action has merit. We don't start actions if we do not believe they have merit".

On the link between the lawsuit and the Live Nation Ticketmaster merger - which isn't legally significant, but which does make the litigation more interest - Strosberg continued: "Ticketmaster's reach is broadening and they're going to be gaining control of a larger number of tickets. So it just means the serious questions raised in this action must be answered".

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SNOOP DOES MULTI-STREAM DEAL WITH MTV
Ah, so much more interesting than the news the other day that Snoop Dogg has parted company with Universal's Interscope label is the news today that the rapper has done was is in essence a record deal with MTV, which will see the telly station distribute, market and promote his next album, 'Malice in Wonderland'. The network will release the album at the same time as releasing a Snoop version of the Rock Band video game, which is co-owed by MTV Games, and launching a new Snoop Dog show on its TV networks. It's not clear how the TV network plans to actually get the record into shops and onto download stores, and whether they'll be any deal between MTV and a record company in that regard. As for the album itself, we know Dre is involved, and that Pharrell and Argentine pianist and composer Lalo Schifrin guest.

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BOOTSY COLLINS SIGNS PUBS DEAL WITH EMI
The legend that is Bootsy Collins has signed a long-term administration deal with EMI Music Publishing which will cover the singer, songwriter and funk man's various songwriting ventures, which include a number of R&B hits.

Confirming the deal, Collins told reporters: "It's time, 2009, time to go back to the strong brew, that's one of a kind, the only music publishing institution that's as strong as moonshine, and smooth like vintage wine. If this is what it takes then I have committed the crime, yeah I signed, and we gone blow the music world's funkin' mind. All it took was Big Jon at EMI [that'll be EMI Pubs West Coast Creative President Big Jon Platt], to say we want the funk, because we ain't shy, we ain't fakin and we ain't ashamed. This is our chance to dance and raise the bar for the rest of these muthas that's fakin' in the game. I am so glad and happy EMI chose me, we got a black President and now you got the Pee".

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DUFFY TO HAVE A CHANGE OF DIRECTION, SAY REPORTS
The Daily Star claims that Duffy is planning a change of direction when she records her second album. A source told the tabloid: "Duffy and the team around her are very aware of how successful she has been by channelling a 60s vibe, but they are already starting to think about album number two. She is keen to explore a Mariah or Christina Aguilera style of album. On the next record, Duffy can afford to be a bit more experimental now that she is assured her position as a singing force to be reckoned with".

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MUTE ANNOUNCE NICK CAVE COLLECTORS EDITIONS
Mute have announced that the entire back catalogue of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds is to be rereleased in a series of remastered and remixed collectors editions which will come with a DVD featuring a set of specially commissioned short films, as well as including the requisite extra tracks and b-sides. The first four to be released are 'From Her To Eternity', 'The Firstborn Is Dead', 'Kicking Against The Pricks' and 'Your Funeral... My Trial', and they are all out on 30 Mar.

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MACCABEES GIVE AWAY FREE TRACK
The Maccabees have announced their return with a free download of a track from their forthcoming second album. How nice. You can download the song, 'No Kind Words', from www.themaccabees.co.uk.

The band will be heading out on a tour of the UK next month.

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RYAN ADAMS RELEASES NEW EP
Ryan Adams has released a new EP exclusively via iTunes in the US. Called 'Extra Cheese', the collection brings together six previously released tracks with one that's never been previously available, 'Hey There, Mrs Lovely', which Adams has played live for the last decade but never recorded in the studio. I'm not sure how you buy the new track over here, though presumably it will be appearing in the P2Posphere anytime now. When will record companies learn everything has to be released globally these days? If you are in the US, not only can you get the new track legitimately, you can get all seven tracks for the special price of $3.98. The EP tracklisting is as follows:

Two
Answering Bell
Desire
My Love For You Is Real
Blossom
Evergreen
Hey There, Mrs Lovely

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BIG CHILL CELEBRATE 15TH BIRTHDAY WITH THE BIG ISSUE
The Big Chill festival celebrates its 15th birthday this year, and to commemorate the occasion it will be releasing a compilation of 15 tracks chosen by 15 of the festival's favourite performers and the the Big Chill Forum web collective, with all proceeds going to The Big Issue. Artists on the album include Cinematic Orchestra, Ulrich Schnauss, The Orb, Orbital, 4 Hero, John Shuttleworth, Fila Brazillia, Alucidnation and The Blessing.

Coldcut's Matt Black said of his selection: "Funki Porchini's 'Long Road' came on as 'chill out' was just emerging from the rave cave to stand blinking innocently in the light of possibility. It has a certain languorous air that helped seduce the party generation - lead by N4 Eric's Big Chill Cafe Party posse - to find new, horizontal, loved up modes of ecstatic enjoyment. Who can forget the infamous 'Boat Party' trip? The track's jazzy licks made a bridge between trip-hop and electronic chill which would be very influential. Oh, and it has a great bassline!"

Lisa Woodman from The Big Issue said of the album: "The initiative follows on from the working relationship that was developed between The Big Issue and The Big Chill in 2008 where we published and our vendors sold the official programme at the festival, alongside copies of our magazine. We'd like to thank The Big Chill for their hard work in organising this as well as all the artists and labels who have contributed their tracks for free".

Big Chill co-founder Katrina Larkin added: "It really doesn't feel like 15 years. It's been a whirlwind of events, music, bars and great fun. What better way to mark it with this album, showing the friendships that have been formed and the experiences we've shared over the years. We're even more pleased that we can share this with such a good cause as The Big Issue, carrying on The Big Chill ethos. Here's to the next fifteen!"

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GREEN DAY REVEAL ARTWORK
Green Day have unveiled the artwork set to feature on their previously reported new studio album '21st Century Breakdown'. It's a graffiti art style image of a couple embracing and you can see it here if you are interested. The album is expected to be out in May, of course.

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BLUR ANNOUNCE MANCHESTER SHOW
Blur have announced that they will play the MEN Arena in Manchester on 26 Jun. The band have already announced two shows in Hyde Park in July, as well as headline slots at the T In The Park and Oxegen festival. The band are also widely rumoured to be one of this year's headliners at Glastonbury, although everyone I know who paid all that money see them in Hyde Park has said they'll be very annoyed if they are. I hope they are.

Tickets for the Manchester show go on sale on Friday at 9am.

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CARTER USM TO PLAY FIRST FOUR ALBUMS LIVE
Carter USM have announced that they will play their first four albums live in full over two nights later this year, under the banner, 'The Drum Machine Years'. Their third and fourth LPs, '1992: The Love Album' and 'Post Historic Monsters' will be aired at The Forum in Kentish Town on 13 Nov, while their performances of '101 Damnations' and '30 Something' will take place the following night at Brixton Academy.

Frontman Jim Bob told the NME: "We really enjoyed playing the reunion gigs [over the last couple of years]. They were fantastic, life-affirming celebrations, and turned out to be some of the best ever Carter shows. We decided that if we did it again it had to be something different, for both the audience and for us. Performing our first four albums in full, first track to last is something we've never done. We might even chuck in a cheeky Take That-style costume change".

Guitarist Fruitbat added: "We will be playing songs that we have never played live before, and I am really looking forward to that challenge. We are really thrilled to not only be playing our 11th show at The Academy, but it will be wonderful to return to The Forum, where we also played some classic gigs. These sets should be marathons, so I'm going to get in training. I think the audience should too, as we are all going to need to be fit for this!"

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FRIENDLY FIRES TOUR
CMU faves Friendly Fires are set to tour the UK in the spring, dates as follows:

24 Apr: Eastbourne Festival
25 Apr: Bristol University
27 Apr: Manchester Academy 2
28 Apr: Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
29 Apr: Norwich Waterfront
30 Apr: London Forum
1 May: Southampton University
2 May: Brighton Digital
3 May: Birmingham Custard Factory
5 May: Leeds Met University
6 May: Edinburgh Studio 24
7 May: Glasgow QMU

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SPECIAL SNOWSIDE DEALS ANNOUNCED
For those of you feeling the economic pinch, but still keen to partake in some snowy music madness this Spring, then you have to head on over to www.snowside.co.uk, you just have to, because not only is this already one of the most exciting new festivals this year - co-curated by the team behind Secret Garden and the Remix chief Eddy TM, but they have just announced some great ticket deals which means you can have a whole weekend of Alpine partying for just £149, or do the full week for just £249. As previously reported, Snowside combines great music with all kinds of snow-like pursuits and some great Secret Garden style parties over five days in Nassfield, Austria. On the bill are Metronomy, Infadels, Evil Nine, Kissy Sell Out, A.Human and Losers. Brilliant.

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GET LOADED WEEKEND CONFIRMED
Dates have been confirmed for this year's Clapham Common Weekender - though it's always the August Bank Holiday weekend, so I guess it was no secret. But we can confirm that South West Four will return to the Common on Saturday 29 Aug, while Get Loaded In The Park will take place there on Sunday 31 Aug. The licence has been granted and line up announcements are expected soon.

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SPRINGSTEEN AND E STREET TO PLAY HARD ROCK CALLING
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are set to play the Hard Rock Calling event at London's Hyde Park in June, according to reports. The group will play the second night of the event, Sunday 28 Jun with support from The Dave Matthews Band and The Gaslight Anthem. It's also rumoured that Springsteen et al will also play Glastonbury the same weekend.

Tickets for Hard Rock Calling go on sale on 13 Feb at a cost of £45.

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ALBUM REVIEW: School Of Seven Bells - Alpinisms (Full Time Hobby)
Brooklyn-based nu-gazers School Of Seven Bells are ex-Secret Machines guitarist Benjamin Curtis and identical twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, formerly of On! Air! Library!. 'Alpinisms', the band's first full-length LP, is a step beyond Curtis' experimental space rock of old - it is, in fact, a kind of fusion between the twins' ambient roots and the nu-psychedelia sound and scene NYC is becoming so well-known for these days. Drawing in varying skills picked up from their previous bands, and to a great effect, School Of Seven Bells (aptly named after a supposed South American pick-pocketing training academy) have created an album encrusted with colourful sounds and melodies, the majority of which are provided by Alejandra and Claudia's charming if at times bizarre vocal harmonies. Crystal clear and intriguing from the word go, the record is a landscape of fresh sound ready to be explored. 'Wired For Light' is a mysterious and beautiful five minutes of exhilarating loveliness that sounds like it's been recorded in a clandestine opium den in Southern Asia, and perhaps rounds off the premise of 'Alpinisms' as a whole - an exploration of the exotic and the discovery of something that is at once electrifying and bewitching. TW
Release Date: 23 Feb
Press Contact: Full Time Hobby IH [all]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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PROMOTION FOR POLYDOR MARKETING CHIEF
Universal Music yesterday announced that Orla Lee, currently Marketing Director for Polydor UK, will become the division's General Manager. I'm not sure what that really means, though Lee will now oversee all marketing activity for both Polydor and it's A&M imprint, taking over some responsibilities from Karen Simmons who will be spending more time on the marketing and sales potential of the internet and mobile phones and all that modern nonsense.

Confirming Lee's promotion, Polydor president Ferdy Unger-Hamilton said this: "Orla's creativity, vision and passion for the artists she works with have played a massive part in Polydor's recent success. She is an exceptional executive who I know will build on PUK's already extraordinary achievements in her new role".

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LIVE NATION CONSIDERING CASHLESS DOWNLOAD
This is interesting, Live Nation UK, doing proper work while their US superiors dabble in the world of mergers and acquisitions, have said they may launch super duper wrist bands at this year's Download festival which could make the event cashless. Punters would be able to 'charge up' their wristbands at the start of the festival, and then pay for food and drink and the likes by swiping their wrists over a clever device. The aim is to remove those common festival anxieties that you'll lose all your cash to the mud in the mosh pit, or that the scruffy looking reveller on your left is about to pickpocket all your dosh.

Any use of the system at this year's Download would probably be a pilot for future roll out at other major events staged by the live music conglom. The company's COO, John Probyn, told Music Week: "Basically a band with a built-in computer chip can be credited with money. Similar systems already exist - my golf club has it and universities have it - but it hasn't been used at a major outdoor festival, so we'll hopefully give it a limited trial at Download. If you can imagine all the tills that you have at a festival - for food, drink, merchandise and concession stalls, fair rides, etc - you're talking about a significant outlay to get everything working in sync. [But] there's an obvious benefit for security, because if kids aren't carrying cash you can cut down on theft, and if they lose the wristband it can be cancelled immediately with a new one issued on site, credited with the same amount of money".

Probyn also reckons the system may be popular with parents of teenagers going to festivals, because it will mean they can have more control on how their kids spend their money (I think they can limit how much goes on alcohol over food, and unless dealers are getting very high tech, lunch money can't be spent on dope). Companies running the food and drink stalls are also seemingly supportive of the proposals, even if it requires some initial investment in new kit, because less cash on their stalls means less chance of dodgy temp staff helping themselves to the money.

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MUZAK APPLIES FOR BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION
Did you know that 'Muzak' is actually the name of a company that makes music for lifts? And shops and the like. Well it is. Though give it a couple of weeks and I'll have to say, well it was. Muzak Holdings LLC have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Though the firm, who have somewhere between $100 million and $500 million in debts, say they hope to restructure their debts while enjoyed Chapter 11 protection and to come out the other side a stronger company. Many of the firm's debtors are music companies whose music (songs and recordings) it licences on behalf of the retailers for whom it provides instore music.

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TOTAL MUSIC CLOSES
Billboard has reported that Total Music, the Universal Music initiated digital music service provider, is no more.

Total Music, a joint venture between Universal and Sony Music, was the most recent attempt by the major record companies to be more than just a content provider to download platforms and digital aggregators, instead providing a complete digital music service, may be advertiser funded, may be subscription based, may be a bit of both, direct to the consumer. Well, not completely directly - the idea was that other brands - websites, phone networks, device manufacturers - would 'badge up' the Total Music service in much the same way Vodafone provide and badge Omnifone's Music Station service in the UK.

A lot was said about Total Music being Universal's bid to gain more control of the digital music space, or at least to reduce Apple's control, though less was said about the specifics of how it would work. More recently there were talks about Facebook launching a rival to MySpace Music utilising the Total Music platform, though when Warner Music said it wouldn't participate, those talks fell though.

It now seems that, with no major partners at the negotiating table, Universal and Sony don't see the merit in continuing to fund the Total Music venture. Presumably they hope that Amazon can, given time, take on iTunes in the a la carte space, while MySpace, YouTube and the increasingly buzzy and now generally available in the UK (see below) Spotify can lead the growth of the advertiser/subscription funded sector.

There's been no official statement, but Billboard quote one unnamed source thus: "Total Music as it is now, is over. With resources being limited these days, we prioritised everything and realised we could accomplish the same thing in some of the other areas where we were working".

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GERMAN GOVERNMENT DOWN ON THREE-STRIKES PROPOSALS TOO
Now the Germans are dissing the three strike approach to combating online piracy.

As much previously reported, one of the proposals to try and stop the kids from illegally sharing music and movies online is that if they ignore two warnings that what they are doing is illegal they will have their internet connection cut off. The internet service providers don't like the idea, but the French government is making the three strike system law and putting in place a new body to administrate it.

Although the idea has been mooted here in the UK, the government's recent Digital Britain report didn't recommend it as an option, and Intellectual Property minister David Lammy has said he thinks such a system would be unworkable.

Now the German government has reportedly said it wouldn't back introducing the three-strike system either, mainly because of concerns forcing ISPs to closely monitor their customers' online activity would breach the country's privacy laws (a common reason cited for not forcing net firms to police online piracy).

The German Federal Minister Of Justice Brigitte Zypries reportedly said as much to representatives of the German ISP industry last month.

Needless to say, the German record industry, which has become increasingly litigious in recent years in its bid to combat online piracy, isn't all that pleased, worryed that Zypries' comments not only mean the three strike proposal is a no go, but that it shows the government doesn't appreciate the scale of the net piracy problem.

Billboard quote Stefan Michalk, MD of the German Federal Music Association, thus: "Unfortunately, Germany is the only country in which no progress is being made. The only alternative still available to companies is to take legal steps against internet piracy. It is vital for Germany as well to lay the foundations for similar models in the near future. Otherwise the German creative industry will suffer from a clear competitive disadvantage compared with other countries".

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SPOTIFY OPENS UP TO ALL UK INTERNET USERS
Spotify has now officially opened its doors to all UK internet users, the company announced yesterday. Previously access had only been available by invitation (although you could invite yourself and it wasn't difficult to bypass even that part of the process). However, in the interests of providing a good service, the company said that this privilege may be taken away again if it proves too popular.

On the official Spotify blog, the company said: "We want to make sure that everyone who uses Spotify gets the same fast, uninterrupted experience so providing a stable service is our priority. If growth happens too fast and it starts affecting quality we may have to re-instate the invitation system, hopefully this won't happen".

However, it added that if this test of its stability went well, it hoped to open the system up in the same way to other countries in the future.

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MAGIC LONDON MD STEPS DOWN
The MD of the London incarnation of the Magic Radio brand is stepping down. Mark Story, who helped launch the cheesy listening station, as well as helping develop other Bauer stations like Kiss and Kerrang!, will leave both his Magic 105.4 role, and his newer job as MD of Bauer's national radio brands. His Magic London role will be taken over by the MD of Kiss, Steve Parkinson, who will look after both stations in the new role of MD for London Radio.

Confirming Parkinson's promotion, Bauer Media radio chief Dee Ford, told reporters: "Steve was at Heart when it overtook Capital for the first time, and at Kiss when the station overtook Capital for the first time. Steve has successfully led Kiss for the past two years and I am confident he will deliver the overall London radio strategy necessary to take Magic 105.4 and Kiss to the next level of success".

Parkinson himself added: "This is a fantastic role and allows us the opportunity to deliver a joined-up London strategy to take on other commercial broadcasters and the BBC. Q4 RAJARs revealed Kiss beat Radio One in London for the first time in two years and Magic is snapping at the heels of Radio Two. Collectively, Kiss and Magic are leading the commercial charge against the BBC music stations in London. These famous brands are going from strength to strength and I'm looking forward to building yet greater reach and additional hours at Kiss and Magic to dominate the London market".

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THIS WEEK'S SUB.TV PLAYLIST
These, in case you wondered, are the videos being played on the Sub.tv network of screens in students' unions around the UK this week. New entries marked with a *. More info from DavidLloyd@sub.tv.

A-List
The All-American Rejects - Gives You Hell
Britney Spears - Circus
Chase & Status feat. Kano - Against All Odds
Coldplay - Life In Technicolor ii
Daniel Merriweather - Change
The Fray - You Found Me
Glasvegas - Flowers and Football Tops
Innerpartysystem - Don't Stop
The King Blues - ave The World, Get The Girl
Ladyhawke - Paris Is Burning
Lily Allen - The Fear
Madcon - Liar
MGMT - Time To Pretend
Red Light Company - Arts & Crafts
Sway feat. Akon - Silver & Gold
The View - Shock Horror

B-List
Barefoot Confessor - He Doesn't Love You
Buraka Som Sistema - Sound of Kudura
Emmy The Great - First Love
Esser - Work It Out
Fever Ray - If I Had A Heart
Friendly Fires - Skeleton Boy
In Case Of Fire - The Cleansing
Katy Perry - Thinking Of You
New Rhodes - The Joys of Finding and Losing That Girl
Passion Pit - Sleepyhead
Starsailor - Tell Me It's Not Over
Rex The Dog - Bubblicious
Rudenko - Everybody
The Voluntary Butler Scheme - Multiplayer
VV Brown - LEAVE!
The Wombats - My Circuitboard City

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SHERYL CROW NEARLY JOINED FLEETWOOD MAC, CONFIRMS NICKS
Stevie Nicks has been talking about the time Sheryl Crow nearly joined Fleetwood Mac. As previously reported, Crow nearly joined the band three years ago, but at the last minute decided against it for personal reasons. Well, mainly because she had a big party to organise.

According to Undercover, Nicks told reporters: "We rented a studio and hired a crew. We were ready to go in and called her and needed her to come for two or three days to just play. It was Mother's Day and she had invited 300 people in her family there. It was her first Mother's Day as a mom and she could not do it. At that point she said 'I am going to have to pass'. I said 'I think you are making the right decision. You have a new baby, you have survived breast cancer and Lance Armstrong. I don't think this is the right thing for you'. That is what happened with Sheryl Crow. She is still our friend and I still adore her. She is one of my dearest friends".

Nicks went on to say that another replacement had not been considered: "As far as having another girl in the band, after we went through that we really realised that there wasn't going to be another woman that could come into this band who could fit. I was looking at it three years ago as a buffer between me and Lindsay [Buckingham]. Lindsay and I don't need a buffer. Certainly Sheryl Crow and not any woman in the world is going to be able to get in the middle of Lindsay and me. The fact is if Lindsay and I can't work out our problems by ourselves we might as well throw in the towel. That's what we are currently trying to do is work out own problems and certainly another person could not do that for us. Think about this: Christine has been gone since 1998 so I have been the only girl in this band for a long, long time. I'm used to it now. At first I was not used to it. After 'The Dance' was horrifying for me. She has been gone time and I'm fine with it now".

Fleetwood Mac begin their first tour in five years on 1 Mar in Pittsburgh.

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CHRIS EVANS HAS SECOND CHILD
Radio 2's Chris Evans and his partner Natasha Shishmanian are celebrating the birth of a baby boy that they've named Noah Nicholas Martin Evans, and who weighed 7lb 4oz at birth. Evans has one child already from a previous relationship, 21 year old Jade.

Writing about the happy event on his blog, Evans said: "There was a bit of a twist, in his case, in his umbilical chord wrapped not once but twice around his neck, poor little fella, so mum did most of the pushing and then towards the end enjoyed a wee bit of help from a very nice man called Pat. I think I may love him, I know Tash definitely does".

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SATURDAYS FEELING COMIC RELIEF SINGLE PRESSURE
Girl band The Saturdays have said they feel a bit under pressure about releasing their Comic Relief single, a cover of Depeche Mode's 'Just Can't Get Enough'. The band's Rochelle Wiseman apparently told the Daily Record: "There is a lot of pressure on us because Comic Relief singles have gone to No.1 in the past and we want to sell enough".

Bandmate Frankie Sandford, meanwhile, explained that she has taken advice from her boyfriend Dougie Poynter of McFly, who, of course, released 'All About You' for Comic Relief in 2005. "McFly did a good job and got really involved when they released a song for Red Nose Day, and Dougie and I talked about it, absolutely", she said. "We discussed how it's normal to want to get involved with things, and give it your best. We feel the same and just want to do our bit".

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